One of our rock-star crutch drive organizers this summer, Jeremy Perillo, submitted the following story of his crutch drive experience to the Boy Scout's magazine. He gave us permission to share it here. His passion for helping others is inspiring and we can't thank him enough for his hard work.
Most middle school students look forward to summer break as a time with little responsibility and a lot of relaxing. Jeremy Perillo, a Star Scout with Boy Scout Troop 42, worked over his summer break to give the gift of mobility to 125 children through Crutches 4 Kids. Jeremy’s grandfather introduced him to the Crutches 4 Kids organization after he saw a crutch drive donation box at an orthopedist office.
Crutches 4 Kids is a start-up non-profit based in NYC founded by siblings from Westport, Connecticut, Beth and Ken Shubin Stein. Thus far they have collected over 3,000 pairs of crutches, canes and walkers, giving the gift of mobility, independence and hope to thousands in need. This seemed like a great project. Jeremy knew so many people who had an extra pair of crutches (or two) in their attic or basement taking up space. What a great way to help others in need just by organizing a collection right in his hometown of New Fairfield, Connecticut.
After completing an application the real work began. Jeremy created three collection boxes to place in different locations in town. With the boxes in tow he went to each business and asked for permission to place the box in the lobby area. He was thrilled that New Fairfield Stop and Shop, The New Fairfield Library and Western Connect Medical Group office agreed to his request without any hesitation. The boxes were put in place, a sign was put on the door and with that his crutch drive had officially begun
Once the boxes were in place it was important to advertise the crutch drive to ensure success. Jeremy wrote an article for the local paper and enlisted the help of his parents. His parents helped to advertise through their offices and on their Facebook pages. They also reached out to local freebie and recycle groups for help. He secretly had a goal of collecting 100 items for the drive. He was unsure if he would meet that goal but he was determined to get the word out to as many people as possible.
Melody Woolford, Crutches 4 Kids Chief Operating Officer, was thrilled to receive Jeremy’s application for a crutch drive. “It is volunteers like Jeremy who make our work possible – to help children walk! Collecting gently used crutches through community crutch drives enables children here in the U.S. to help other children in poverty stricken communities who have little access to adequate health care services to go to school, play with their friend, get food/water and be an active member of their community. There is a large demand for crutches in places like Syria, Iraq, Haiti, Sierra Leone, Ghana, Senegal, El Salvador, Peru and many other countries that have been affected by war, natural disasters, or extreme poverty. Crutches 4 Kids aims to empower children around the world by bridging the gap between the large supply of crutches sitting idly in our closets, attics or basements, with this large demand. We celebrate volunteers like Jeremy who take the initiative to plan crutch drives and help others! Every pair of crutches changes a childhood!”
Many of the crutches, canes and walkers received were in excellent condition. However, there were some that had parts in disrepair. Many of the rubber handles or tips had disintegrated with age. Jeremy took $100 of his money and ordered these replacement parts through Candlewood Drugs. He spent many nights going through the items to ensure that each pair of crutches, each cane and every walker were ready to use once received at their final location.
On September 5th Jeremy and his parents packed up two cars and delivered 105 pairs of crutches, 18 walkers, 8 canes and two boots to a warehouse in Stamford, Connecticut. These items will be packed up and shipped to an area in need but the final destination has not been confirmed. Regardless of where they go Jeremy is proud that he has been able to help over 125 children with the gift of mobility.