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The gift of mobility: Statewide wheelchair drive starts this weekend

Imagine walking over 60 miles carrying disabled twins in your arms in hopes of securing wheelchairs for your children. A mother from Vietnam did just that, and at the end, received the gift of mobility for her children from Hope Haven Internation...

Imagine walking over 60 miles carrying disabled twins in your arms in hopes of securing wheelchairs for your children. A mother from Vietnam did just that, and at the end, received the gift of mobility for her children from Hope Haven International, a charitable organization based in Sioux Falls.

This weekend, Hope Haven staff and volunteers, along with members of local Rotary Clubs, will be onsite at 29 statewide locations of Karl's TV and Appliance, to assist with the collection of wheelchairs and other mobility equipment destined to help people in third-world countries around the globe. Since 1994, Hope Haven has been manufacturing, and has distributed more than 120,000 wheelchairs to date.

This year, the organization reached out to Elmer Karl, the owner of Karl's TV and Appliance, asking for his support in the collection effort. Karl then presented the campaign at the latest district meeting of the South Dakota Rotary clubs. David Brown, president of the Rotary Club in Mitchell, was on board to advocate for this cause and joined forces with the retailer to get the word out.

"Karl showed us a video of the latest distribution in Guatemala. To see the faces of those kids light up - and obviously the mom - when they got those wheelchairs is just unbelievable," Brown said. "When somebody from South Dakota can make an impact all over the world, that's just amazing."

The wheelchair drive will kick-off on Saturday, Oct. 27 at the Karl's TV and Appliance in Mitchell at 9 a.m., as well as all other Karl's locations across the state. The collection will run from October through December and donations will be accepted at any time during business hours. Once the equipment and wheelchairs are collected, they will be cleaned and refurbished at several volunteer facilities, including the South Dakota State Penitentiary, before being shipped to over 108 developing countries. When the wheelchairs reach their final destination, they are adapted for the recipients' needs and given to them free of cost.

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