Where to donate hearing aids, glasses, etc.

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Dear Savvy Senior:
Where are some good places to donate old hearing aids, eyeglasses and mobility equipment? My uncle passed away a few months ago and left behind a bunch of useful aids that could surely help someone else.

                            Searching Nephew

Dear Searching:
Donating old, unused assistive living aids and/or medical equipment is a great way to help those in need who can’t afford it, and in most cases it’s tax deductible, too. Here are some good places to check into.

Hearing aids

There are several national nonprofit service organizations that offer hearing aid recycling programs. Hearing aids that are donated are usually refurbished and either redistributed to those in need, or resold with the proceeds going to buy new hearing aids for people who can’t afford them.

One of the most popular places to donate old hearing aids, as well as hearing aid parts or other assistive listening devices, is the Starkey Hearing Foundation “Hear Now” recycling program. The foundation collects around 60,000 hearing aids a year.

Hearing aids and other listening devices should be sent to: Starkey Hearing Foundation, ATTN: Hearing Aid Recycling, 6700 Washington Ave. South, Eden Prairie, MN 55344. For more information, see www.starkeyhearingfoundation.org, email info@starkeyfoundation.org, or call 1-866-354-3254.

Some other good nonprofits to donate to are the Lions Club Hearing Aid Recycling Program and Hearing Charities of America, which is founded by Sertoma, a civic service organization dedicated to hearing health.

The closest Lions Club program is located in Glen Allen, Va. Visit them online at http://lionshabva.org, email hearaidsva@gmail.com, or call (804) 756-0288. For Hearing Charities, visit hearingaiddonations.org or call (816) 333-8300.

You can also contact the Bethesda, Md.-based Hearing Loss Association of America at www.hearingloss.org or (301) 657-2248. They can also refer you to state agencies or community service programs that also accept hearing aids.

The following organizations can also help: Center for Hearing Aids and Speech at (713) 523-3633, Chattering Children (202) 333-1403, and the Oticon Hearing Foundation, info@oticonhearingfoundation.org.

Eyeglasses

One of the best places to donate old eyeglasses is to the Lions Club Recycle for Sight program. They collect nearly 30 million pairs of glasses each year and distribute them to people in need in developing countries.

To donate, look for a Lion’s Club glasses donation drop-off box in your community. You can often find them at libraries, community centers, churches, schools and many local eye doctor offices, or call your local Lions Club for drop-off locations.

Some Maryland locations include:

Hillandale Opticians, located at 10149 New Hampshire Ave., Silver Spring, Md. and Voorthuis Opticians, located in Montgomery Mall at 7101 Democracy Blvd., Bethesda, Md. In Washington D.C. there is Voorthuis Opticians, located at 3301 New Mexico Ave. NW.

Some Virginia locations include:

Sears Optical located at 11750 Fair Oaks Mall, Fairfax; Costco, located at 4725 West Ox Rd., Fairfax; and the U.S. Post Office located at 3601 Pickett Rd., Fairfax.

See www.directory.lionsclubs.org for a complete list of locations and contact information.

New Eyes (www.new-eyes.org/recycle-1, 1-973-376-4903) is another nonprofit organization that collects unused eyeglasses and distributes them abroad to people in need. They also accept hearing aids.

Medical equipment

If you have old wheelchairs, walker, canes, shower chairs or other durable medical equipment, there are many foundations and organizations that would love to receive them.

For example, Goodwill and Salvation Army stores are popular donation destinations, as are foundations like the ALS Association (www.alsa.org) and Muscular Dystrophy Association (www.mda.org), which accept donations at local chapters.

The organization D.C. Shares has a disability equipment recycling program that accepts used assistive equipment and then makes it available free of charge to those who need it. See www.atpdc.org/equipmentrecyclingdc.php or call (202) 332-2595.

Some local Goodwill locations include:

4816 Boiling Brook Pkwy., Rockville, Md.; 15810 Indianola Dr., Rockville, Md.;10 S. Glebe Rd., Arlington, Va.; and 2200 South Dakota Ave. NE, Washington, D.C.

Some local Salvation Army locations include:

7505 New Hampshire Ave., Takoma Park, Md.; 4825 Edmonston Rd., Hyattsville, Md.; 3335 Sherman Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; 2626 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Washington, D.C.; and 518 S. Glebe Rd., Arlington, Va.

There are also state agencies and local nonprofit organizations that accept medical equipment donations and redistribute them to people in need. To find what’s available in your area, contact the Maryland Technology Assistance Program with the Maryland Dept. of Disabilities (410-554-9245), the Virginia program (1-804-662-9900), or the D.C. program (202-547-0198, ext. 130).

See www.ataporg.org/programs for a national list of programs and their contact information.

Or, if you’re interested in selling your uncle’s old medical equipment, you
have options here too, including www. craigslist.com, www.recycledmedical.com, and www.usedhme.com (920-471-7900), which are all free sites that let you list what you want to sell online.

Don’t forget that donations to nonprofits are tax-deductible, so when you drop off your donated items, be sure to ask for a receipt for your tax records.

Or, if you’re mailing it in or are using one of the Lions Club drop-off boxes, you’ll need to include a note requesting a letter of acknowledgement of the donation. Your note should include your name and a brief description of what you donated, along with a self-addressed stamped envelope.

Send your questions to: Savvy Senior, P.O. Box 5443, Norman, OK 73070, or visit SavvySenior.org. Jim Miller is a contributor to the NBC Today show and author of “The Savvy Senior” book.