Churches give gift of mobility

Funds: Wheelchairs assist disabled people in developing countries.

Presentation: Paul Cancade

Two Shuswap parishes are on a roll.

Over the past five weeks, parishioners of Salmon Arm’s St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church and Our Lady of the Lake in Blind Bay have raised enough money to purchase nearly 100 wheelchairs.

“It was a very quick campaign,” says Steve Homes who, along with fellow Knights of Columbus member Don Render, attended a convention in the Lower Mainland where they heard about the Wheelchair Foundation.

The Wheelchair Foundation is a nonprofit organization on an international mission to create awareness of the needs and abilities of people with physical disabilities, “to promote the joy of giving, create global friendship, and to deliver a wheelchair to every child, teen and adult in the world who needs one, but cannot afford one.”

Holmes says the Knights of Columbus have been working with the foundation for many years and he and Render thought it would be a good fundraiser for the local church.

We saw how it worked,” he says, noting much of the appeal was that for $150 a wheelchair could be purchased at cost and shipped to one of about 25 countries such as Afghanistan, Haiti, Vietnam and Africa.

“It was one of the most rewarding things I’ve done,” says Holmes, noting Render suggested the campaign include showing Roman Catholic parishioners a couple of short films.

Holmes says there were a lot of teary eyes when parishioners viewed the films, not only because of the images of people without legs, but those of recipients’ tears of joy as they received the gift of mobility and dignity.

“One old man in a wheelchair is wheeling home and he extends his arm as if he was flying,” says Holmes. “There was some sniffling in the church hall and people were very generous.”

As well, Holmes reports a spokesperson at the foundation remarked on the generosity of Salmon Arm.

“It’s officially over,” laughs Holmes, noting the count was at 98 wheelchairs 10 days ago.

“But if anyone is moved to contribute, they can phone me at 250-832-8556.”


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