The Walworth Town Clerk’s Office, The Palmyra King’s Daughters and the Grace Episcopal Church in Lyons all offer first aid items at their loan closets. The items, including wheelchairs and crutches, are available to the public free of charge for as long as they need them.
Eight years ago, when Walworth resident Elsie Moll had knee-replacement surgery, her doctors told her she would need a walker and wheelchair until she got back on her feet. But instead of digging into her own pocket to purchase the equipment, she took advantage of a free resource in her community: the first aid loan closet at the Walworth Town Clerk’s Office.
“It’s something you don’t use but for a short time,” said Moll, who borrowed the equipment until she recovered. “To invest in it yourself doesn’t make much sense if you know you’re going to get better.”
Two weeks ago, when her husband, Jim, also had knee-replacement surgery, Moll again went to the closet to borrow a walker and a cane.
“I have people come in every day wanting stuff from it,” said Walworth Town Clerk Susie Jacobs, adding that the closet has been in the town hall for 11 years. “It’s an important service we provide because many people don’t have access. In a way, we are stopping them from having to purchase it through their insurance agency.”
The Walworth loan closet isn’t the only one offering medical items — everything from wheelchairs and walkers to crutches and shower seats — to area residents during times of injury or illness. The Palmyra King’s Daughters and the Grace Episcopal Church in Lyons also have closets.
The Palmyra closet has been operated through a committee for at least 50 years, said Tricia Kuntz, president of The Palmyra King’s Daughters.
“People are very appreciative that they can borrow equipment for use after surgery, for a visiting elderly relative or for a child with a sprained ankle or broken leg,” she said. “Just being able to borrow equipment locally can help relieve a small part of the stress of a family illness.”
Nine years ago, Annette Harris organized the Good Samaritan Loan Closet at Grace Episcopal.
“We wanted some small outreach to do for the church, and that worked,” she said. “Especially in this time with the economy, sometimes items are really expensive. People who receive things from the loan closet are very grateful.”
“I’ve had quite a bit of good luck getting things there,” she said. “ ... I’m sure there are people who are not able to afford to get this equipment if they get it on their own. It’s a wonderful thing that’s there for them to use if they need it.”
The closets rely heavily on donations, including a wheelchair owned by Moll’s aunt, which Moll donated when she passed away. Jacobs said she also maintains a list of equipment available in the area, so that if the Walworth closet doesn’t have something, she can direct people where to go.