The regional Red Cross has a new, and its first, disaster-relief tool to help the elderly and those with mobility problems.
The organization unveiled Monday its new Functional Needs Disaster Trailer in Spring Garden Township at the Victory Athletic Association, which paid for the trailer and its supplies.
Mike Murphy, chair of volunteers with the Harrisburg-based Red Cross of the Susquehanna Valley, said the trailer and the equipment inside will better aid those with mobility problems during a disaster.
"It's not always those who are mobile. It's everyone," he said.
First hand: Murphy saw first-hand the need for equipment for those who can't get around as easily as others and who have been displaced during a disaster.
It was during Tropical Storm Lee, nearly three years ago, that Murphy was volunteering at a shelter at Harrisburg High School and took note that wheelchairs were needed for some of the 250 people displaced by flooding.
Wheelchairs were in short supply, and the Red Cross was not equipped to handle the need.
"That's when it brought it all home," Murphy said.
Wheelchairs are among some of the supplies inside the trailer, which will be towed behind an SUV in the event of a disaster. Other equipment includes cots, privacy screens, walkers, canes and toiletry items.
All the items will help improve the quality of life for those affected by a disaster, Murphy said.
"Even something as simple as that privacy screen," he said. "It's all going to help."
Donation: The $25,000 cost for the trailer and equipment came from proceeds of Victory's small games of chance. By law, social clubs are required to donate a portion of those proceeds to charities.
Association president Steve Taylor said donations usually go to local organizations, but since the trailer could be used anywhere, including York County, association members felt it was a worthy cause.
"You never know where it will be needed," he said.
For now, the trailer will be housed in Harrisburg, but it can be called out to respond to disasters in any of the 22 counties in the state covered by the organization, Murphy said.
Taylor said the association will likely contribute additional money in the coming years to replenish supplies in the trailer.
He was not only instrumental in giving funds toward the trailer, he also had a hand, literally, in building the final project.
Apprentices at Kinsley Education Center, where Taylor is a teacher, made shelves for the trailer to keep supplies organized.
"It's pretty neat when you give money and you get to see the end project," he said.
— Reach Greg Gross at firstname.lastname@example.org.