FIVE hundred more disabled people across the island have received free wheelchairs, thanks to the latest act of kindness by charity group Free Wheelchair Mission which made the donation through the Errol Rattray Evangelistic Association (EREA) last week.
A ceremonial hand-over of the wheelchairs took place last Tuesday at the EREA base on Washington Boulevard in Kingston.
Free Wheelchair Mission is a United States-based charity organisation, which has been partnering with the EREA for several years. A similar donation, valued at just under $7 million, was made in February of 2012.
"The wheel chairs were donated free of cost to persons from all walks of life, including those in the hospitals, the prisons, the community and even in the various church groups," EREA founder Errol Rattray told the Jamaica Observer last week.
He said the recipients were selected by churches and staff at health facilities across the island.
"To see how the donations have changed the lives of the recipients, this brings great joy and we will be looking forward to other visits across the Jamaica in coming weeks," Rattray explained.
Last week a team led by Rattray and included members of the Free Wheelchair Mission distributed dozens of the wheelchairs to people in Kingston, St Catherine, and St James
One of their first stop was in Rollington Town at the home of Velvia Smith whose 11-year-old daughter, Joelle, suffers from cerebral palsy, which makes her unable to walk.
An elated Smith, who has three other children, said that the donation has taken a huge burden off her shoulders.
"For several months I was trying to source a wheelchair but it was difficult as I did not have the necessary funds," she explained.
She said her feelings were indescribable when she learnt she would be receiving the chair.
The woman wore a broad smile as she fitted her daughter in the new wheelchair. Equally pleased were the donors, who watched in admiration.
"This is exactly what we hoped for when we come to see people and try to provide assistance for them," said Dr Toney Angelo, clinical forensic psychologist and member of the outreach team.
"It is amazing to see the look on the people's faces; we want people, who sometimes feel forgotten, to know that they are not," added Eric Blum, another team member and dean at the University of Redlands in California
Meanwhile, another memorable stop was made at the home of Barbara Whyte off Molynes Road to hand over a wheelchair to her 12-year-old disabled grandson.
"The donation is really a blessing and I really do give thanks for the contribution which will help my grandson tremendously," said the vendor.
Meanwhile, Rattray is encouraging persons with disabled family members to get in contact with the his association to benefit from the donation.