I have been thinking about this, because over the years, several family members (well mostly my husband) have been injured and temporarily needed things like crutches, walkers, and wheelchairs. We have always either kept these items, or have given them to a friend or family member who might need them.
Although I have donated my old eyeglasses to the Lion’s Club International through one of their collection boxes, I started to wonder why I never thought about donating these other items to those who might need them. So I did some exploring on how to do that and here’s what I found out.
First as I mentioned, Lion’s Club International collects old eyeglasses that go to those in need both at home and in developing countries. The Lion’s Club is a humanitarian group that has focused on helping those in the community since the early 1900s, primarily focusing on projects and programs that help the blind or visually impaired and work to eliminate blindness. They also support projects to control and prevent diabetes and diabetic retinopathy, the leading cause of vision loss in adults.
You can drop your old glasses in a collection box near you, contact your local lion’s club, or even mail them in. You can find their collection boxes at public locations like libraries, schools, community centers, coffee shops/houses, optometrist’s offices, and places of worship.
Or, you can ask your optician about recycling your glasses; often they know of places that need them.
The Lion’s Club also has a hearing aid recycling program for children and adults.
Aside from glasses and hearing aids, gently used medical equipment and devices that are in good condition are collected by various nonprofit organizations. These include things like walkers, crutches, braces, bandages, wheelchairs, scooters, bath equipment, and more.
If you are wondering where to donate your things, you can donate locally to AIDS support groups, the American Red Cross, schools, animal shelters, veterinarians and to health practitioners who volunteer locally or overseas. In addition, Senior Centers might take them as well as local, free health clinics that help those without health insurance.
If you have a wheelchair you don’t need, there are some great wheelchair recycling programs and organizations around. The Wheelchair Foundation lists organizations throughout the country that take donations of used wheelchair equipment. Included on this list are Chariots of Hope and the Muscular Dystrophy Association, which has offices throughout the United States.
One item you might want to get rid of in a more environmentally friendly way is your unused medicine/medication. This is a bit trickier since there are liability issues associated with medicine. There are a couple of places that take specific medications. These include The Health Equity Project, which donates unused medicines.
As their site says, “Unused medicines are put to good use for those who are unable to afford them in developing countries. We always need antibiotics, anti-malarials, pain relievers, and HIV/AIDS anti-retrovirals. Diflucan or flucanazole (used to treat yeast infections) is especially needed.”
Another group that takes unused medicine is Aid for AIDS, but it only takes very specific drugs.
If you want to find out whether you can give your unused medications to agencies in your state, look into your state’s specific donation regulations. Usually if the state allows it there are only specific drugs that can be donated and only unopened medication is accepted.