Local Rotarians move a box of crutches in a recent effort to pack up mobility aids for Crutches 4 Africa. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Local Rotarians move a box of crutches in a recent effort to pack up mobility aids for Crutches 4 Africa. SUBMITTED PHOTO

OLD ORCHARD BEACH — They sit gathering dust in attics and garages or get passed by at yard sales. Crutches, once used for a brief time after an injury, no longer of value years later.

Used mobility aids like crutches and walkers may seem to some like old junk taking up space, but to polio survivors in Africa, they could be a life changer.

Rotary Club of Saco Bay Sunset has a new drop-off point for used mobility aids on Saco Avenue at the Beach Farm and Lobster Stand, next to MacDonald’s Garage.

The mobility aids will be collected for Crutches 4 Africa, an organization begun in 2006 by documentary film maker Dave Talbot. While shooting a film in Africa, Talbot, himself a polio survivor, saw people disabled by polio shunned by their communities. With the aid of a pair of crutches, a walking stick, or a walker, these people can become productive members of their society.

Through Crutches 4 Africa, 98,000 mobility aid devices have been shipped to 16 countries in Africa and 10 other countries.

Saco Bay Sunset Rotary Club member Dennis Robillard began a local effort to collect mobility aids in 2011.

Since then, items collected have been periodically wrapped to be shipped out to those in need. In early September, the Saco Bay Sunset Rotary Club, along with Cape Elizabeth Rotary Club and Saco Bay Rotary Club, recently wrapped around 1,000 mobility devices to be shipped out of the country through Crutches 4 Africa.  

Robillard said in a 2014 interview that he hates to see good equipment that can be of use to others go to waste.

Other local drop-off points include Old Orchard Beach Town Hall, Saco City Hall, Saco Bay Orthopedic & Sports Physical Therapy in Saco, J.R. Martin Community Center in Biddeford and Biddeford Savings Bank in Biddeford.

For more information on Crutches 4 Africa, visit www.crutches4africa.org.

— Staff Writer Liz Gotthelf can be contacted at 282-1535, ext. 325 or [email protected]


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