Green Team and MedWish collect supplies for Ukraine
When the Cleveland Heights Green Team agreed to partner with MedWish International a couple of months ago, the war in Ukraine seemed almost implausible.
"We had been wanting to do a collection drive to provide a second life to discarded medical supplies and equipment as a means to repurpose rather than waste," said Alex Sitarik, co-founder of the grassroots environmental group.
The collection had been scheduled to take place in April as part of Earth Month in the Heights.
"The drive was intended to emphasize recycling, reusing, repurposing alternatives as a mechanism to divert waste from the landfill. But sadly, that war has occurred, and instead we will be collecting supplies to distribute to relief organizations,” Sitarik explained. "It feels surreal, but we are glad we can do our part to help".
MedWish International is a Cleveland-based nonprofit organization that works to save lives and the environment by repurposing discarded medical supplies and equipment to provide humanitarian aid to people in need. In 2021, MedWish shipped 431,000 pounds of supplies and equipment, impacting nearly 2 million people at home and around the world.
“MedWish has had extensive experience in providing international humanitarian aid, and we are willing and able to use our strengths as an organization to provide aid to individuals and organizations who are impacted by the crisis in Ukraine,” said Allison Busser, director of development at MedWish. "Our organization is working with long-standing Ukrainian recipients to distribute medical supplies and equipment as well as basic emergency supplies to relief organizations in Ukraine and surrounding countries directly assisting those impacted by the emergency."
For its Ukrainian-relief supply drive, MedWish is accepting basic-needs donations, such as baby wipes, crutches, walkers, personal hygiene items, sleeping bags, PPEs, and first-aid supplies; as well as medical equipment, including IV poles, microscopes, nebulizers, oxygen concentrators, scales (manual and electronic), and wheelchairs.
"We all have stuff that we no longer need taking space in closets, attics, and basements," noted Sitarik. "As long as it is not expired, and in working conditions, it can be repurposed and reused."
To make it easy for residents to drop off donations, the Green Team has organized two collection drives during two community events: the World Health Day Heights Bike Crawl on April 7, 3:30–5:30 p.m., at Boulevard Elementary School, and the Heights Sustainability Fair on April 23, 1–4 p.m., at Coventry PEACE Park.
“We have been humbled by the overwhelming positive response from our community to past recycling drives,” said Sitarik. “However, this drive is different. It is an opportunity not only to do something positive for the environment, but to potentially help save lives. We know that our residents will respond in force.”
Catalina Wagers is resident of the Fairfax neighborhood. She is actively involved with several local organizations supporting causes and programs focused on the advacement of NEO through better access to education, policy advocacy, and environmental protection. She is co-founder of Cleveland Heights Green Team.