Local residents are celebrating the Christmas season by raising money for people in need.
Coordinated by Ethos Fitness Studio in Carlisle, the fundraiser was started in October and has so far raised more than $1,400 for the purchase of special wheelchairs for those living in developing countries.
Studio owners Lisa Oplinger, Tina Salomone and Heather Leatherman hope to raise $1,500, enough for five wheelchairs, by the end of the month.
The wheelchairs are Personal Energy Transportation vehicles, also called mobility carts, that according to the PET website, “go where wheelchairs can’t go.” They are assembled at workshops in the United States, including one in Mount Holly Springs, and provided free to people in need.
“They’re not the typical wheelchair,” Oplinger said, explaining that a PET moves when the operator turns hand cranks that are connected to a bicycle chain.
The people who use PETs face mobility issues “because of landmines, polio and other diseases, birth defects and amputations,” the website says.
Oplinger said PETs improve a person’s quality of life by allowing them to get out of their homes and travel over terrain that could not be accessed by an ordinary wheelchair.
“Before getting their PET, their only way of getting around is by dragging themselves on the ground,” she said. “It (getting a PET) is uplifting and life changing in so many ways for them. With a PET, they can become a really productive member of their community.”
Oplinger, Salomone and Leatherman learned about PET from Linda Henninger, who teaches classes at Ethos Fitness Studio, and Elaine Livas, PET coordinator in Carlisle. Studio members Julia Bliss and Liz Dete suggested raising money for the project by asking people to donate their spare change.
Their idea, Spare Change for Change, resulted in the collection of more than $200.
Salomone said the studio decided to assist by offering classes by donation on Giving Tuesday, with all of the money going to PET.
Oplinger said contributions are still coming in and as of last Monday totaled $1,430.
“We wanted to give it some energy, and that (Giving Tuesday event) brought a lot of awareness (to the fundraiser),” she said.
Oplinger said she is proud of the Carlisle community for stepping up to raise money and serve as PET volunteers.
“I think it’s so fantastic that right in Carlisle there are people and an organization that can make a difference around the world,” she said. “It’s a great thing locally that is serving people around the world.”
Donations are being accepted at the studio on Penrose Place in Carlisle, and more information is available at petcarlisleinc.org.