The Gift of Mobility
"I was going along and all of a sudden right in front of me was a woman on her stomach and there was a baby on her back or tied to her back. And as I parted the grass, I noticed she had two little kids behind her. She was not really crawling but dragging herself with her arms and kind of helping with her legs. Obviously she couldn't walk. She had come for three miles that way to find mobility. It's a great story. Chokes me up just thinking about it," PET co-founder Larry Hills said.
The victims of immobility come from all over the world and the causes range from land mines to polio.
"I was very surprised to get the first victim of Agent Orange," Ashland resident Vee Fasciotti said. "Exposure to Agent Orange I guess 40 years ago. She cannot walk, talk but she can see okay and she can use her arms. This is the first time she's had mobility. "
PET is a faith based ecumenical group that started in West's Columbia garage in 1994. Today, seven states, Mexico , Zambia and South Africa now assemble or make parts for the PET. In an unassuming old warehouse on Heriford Road sits a global phenomenon that now reaches people everywhere from Nigeria to Bolivia, in more than 60 countries worldwide.
"We don't preach sermons. The PET itself speaks of our love," West said.
A missionary in one part of Africa estimates his area needs at least 100,000 PETs. But, there are only volunteers and donations to turn out a few thousand a year.
"Twenty million out there and we're only making a few thousand. We're gonna have a lot of catching up to do," PET builder Roger Hofmeister said.
Hofmeister was a volunteer physician during the Vietnam War. Decades later, he's still treating amputees with a different kind of instrument.
"Person's been on the ground for ten, twenty, thirty years and unable to move. And then all at once you put them on a PET and changed their life just like that. There aren't that many things in medicine or anywhere that can make that impact that immediately," Hofmeister said.
The PET Project is all volunteer, even the retired airplane mechanic who designed it.
"You're not designing something to make money or to get recognition. You're designing for that person you don't know and will never see," PET designer Earl Miner said.
Volunteers pack the pets with items we throw away. It's not just the PETs that are valuable but the packaging they come in. Even though the boxes are often badly dented when they arrive, it's still valuable to the people of Vietnam, including the binding that's wrapped around the box. They can sell the packing material at market. Inside the boxes are old clothes, toys, and shoes. When recipients open the boxes, it's like Christmas to the people of Vietnam.
"We put in tennis balls. Tennis players throw them away after a dozen times you know. There aren't balls in most of the world. The kids wad up rags, tie it with string and make a ball. So, a tennis ball is just unimaginable," Hills said.
On the boxes are no fancy packaging or shiny bows, inside there is simply the gift of mobility.
The Columbia PET Project could use welders or people with good carpentry skills to help build PETs.
How You Can Help the Columbia PET Project
Tennis Balls (even the old ones that have lost their bounce are a thrill for a child who has never had a ball)
Wire Coat Hangers (Wire is at a premium in poor countries)
Good condition used clothes and shoes
Good condition toys
The above items are used as packing materials for the PETs .
Find People with welding, metalworking, or woodworking skills who will agree to help build PET parts. Help them with expenses--buy the metal, etc. Help them ship it to The PET Place in Columbia, Missouri USA.
Find Businesses hat sell or make "off the shelf" items needed for the PETs. Get them to donate or sell to you at no profit. Send the items to the PET Place.
Talk about the PET Project. Promote. Gossip about it. Say to folks in conversation, "Our church is doing a fascinating mission project..." Tell the story.
Order a Vacation Bible School Kit.
To donate by mail, please print out our donation form and send it along with your donation to:
PET MO - Columbia
1914 Heriford Road
Columbia, MO 65202 USA
Gifts from the Heart
Honor your loved ones while helping to provide another person with mobility. Two gifts in one, a Gift from the Heart celebrates a special occasion,in honor of, or in memory of while supporting the work of The PET Project. A note will be sent to the person being honored, and all Gifts from the Heart will be listed in our next semi-annual newsletter.This gift information can be filled out on our donation form.
As you consider estate planning, consider making the PET Project a part of those plans. The need for the GIFT OF MOBILITY is an ongoing need with millions around the world awaiting it.
The PET Project's Promise to Donors and Volunteers
We promise to keep you regularly informed as to how the PET Project is investing your donations of money, time, energy and skills to make a difference around the world.
We promise to seek out God's "least of these" persons and direct your resources to changing their lives.
We promise to serve the needs of people as a Christian ministry, but without regards to race, religion, sexual preference or other such factors.
We promise to be true to our mission, that of providing THE GIFT OF MOBILITY to those most in need.
We promise to be truthful and frank in our fundraising efforts, and not to create a monthly crisis, or otherwise unduly make emotional pleas for your support. We do rely upon your gifts. It is the simple fact that the more you give the more people The PET Project can help.
We promise financial fidelity. We will work efficiently, making the most of every dollar or other gifts that you provide. Using the gifts of volunteers and networking with cooperating agencies, we will make every effort to get the most possible mission out of every gift you give. Strict accounting and an annual audit will be standard procedure.
We promise to never sell or share our donor list. All your information will be strictly confidential.