When our mother died after a lengthy illness, my brother donated her leftover medical equipment to the United Cerebral Palsy Equipment Exchange.
I don’t know how he knew about the Exchange, but I have been referring people there ever since.
It really is a wonderful way to give and to receive — as a place that accepts donated medical equipment like shower chairs, walkers, crutches, bedside commodes, wheelchairs, scooters and more and then redistributes them for free to people who need them.
The process is simple. If you have items to donate, call the United Cerebral Palsy office and tell them what you have. If they want it, you can agree on a time to drop it off at the Exchange office in North Nashville.
And if you need certain items for yourself or a family member or friend, call the office. If they have the item available, set a time to go get it. And if they don’t have what you need, you can ask to be put on a waiting list for that item.
“The most requested items are wheelchairs, bath devices like shower chairs and bath benches, and (adult) diapers,” said Margaret Eighmy, who oversees the Exchange, which has been providing equipment to people in need for more than 20 years.
The Exchange cannot pick up or deliver items, but appointments for drop-off or pickup can be made on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. The UCP office had its own share of problems with damage to its warehouse, just before succumbing to COVID-19 shutdowns. But once it reopened, its services have never stopped.
Some people think the free equipment is just for people with cerebral palsy, but Eighmy said the Exchange is open to anyone in need. “Anyone with any diagnosis is welcome,” Eighmy said, noting that no questions are asked.
She said people donating items seem to enjoy seeing the equipment being put to good use and that the recipients are grateful to be able to have access to this kind of equipment for themselves or relatives.
“A lot of them come in and ask, ‘How much is this going to cost me?’ They are surprised that it is free,” she said.
In many cases, a borrower uses the equipment temporarily after surgery or a fall, and then re-donates it once they no longer need it. “That is the ideal situation,” Eighmy said.
A few things to know:
• The United Cerebral Palsy office is at 1200 Ninth Ave. N.
• Donating or receiving equipment is by appointment only.
• Equipment is offered no questions asked.
• When you accept equipment, you must sign a waiver.
• All donations should be clean and in good working order.
• UCP is unable to offer any pickup of donations or delivery of the equipment.
• To reach the Equipment Exchange, call 615-242-4091, ext. 105.
• For more information see ucpmidtn.org.