Peru non-profit aims to buy handicap-accessible playground | News

PERU – Harvesting Capabilities, one of the largest advocacy groups in Miami County for those with disabilities and senior citizens, hopes to raise money to purchase new handicap-accessible playground equipment through its annual chili cook-off fundraiser next month.

Organization President Carol Biddle said the nonprofit started raising money for the playground equipment during last year’s chili cook-off, garnering $6,500 for the project.

But there’s still a lot more fundraising to go. Biddle said it could cost up to $150,000 to buy the equipment.

If the organization can raise enough money, the playground would be the first and only one in Miami County that could accommodate kids with disabilities or special needs, including those in wheelchairs.

“If the playground is mulch, and you’re in a wheelchair, it can be impossible to get through,” Biddle said. “The playground equipment we have now we know is not accessible, so we thought this would be a good project.”

The largest fundraiser for the playground is the non-profit’s chili cook-off, which this year will be 11:30 a.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, along the River Walk in Peru.

Biddle said around 500 people attended the event last year to sample chili from 24 different cooking booths, but they hope to surpass those numbers this year.

That’s because the group will allow chili cookers to prepare the food at home and bring it to the event, instead of showing up at 6 a.m. to prepare the food onsite, which was the former requirement.

Save-A-Lot for the first time will also give a $25 gift card to everyone who registers for the event.

“We just want to make it bigger and better and make more money for this worthy project,” Biddle said.

She said outside of the cook-off, she also plans to begin applying for grants and seeking corporate sponsors to raise more money for the playground equipment.

“Right now, we’re just trying to find out what we can raise and what we can buy with how much we raise,” Biddle said.

Harvesting Capabilities was founded in 2007 as a support group for those living with any kind of disability.

Since then, the group has provided around 20 wheelchair ramps to Miami County residents. The organization also has given away more than 100 medical items such as wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commodes, canes, crutches, braces, shower chairs and adult diapers.

Volunteers, many of whom have a disability, offer educational programs to area schools to teach kids about the struggles of those who use walkers or wheelchairs.

In 2015, the non-profit was awarded a grant from the Miami County Community Foundation to open a thrift store selling discounted medical equipment, clothes, books and other items, with all the proceeds going back to the organization.

The organization has also formed a task force called Miami County Accessible Business, which offers tips and suggestions to local stores and shops on how to make their buildings more user-friendly for those using wheelchairs or walkers.

Source: Kokomo Tribune