Category Archives: Equipment

Where to Donate Old AFOs


On first thought, you may think that ankle-foot orthotics (AFOs) cannot be “recycled,” since they are molded to custom-fit a specific child. However, donating your AFOs actually can help children in need! Some organizations modify the shape of used AFOs, fitting them to their new owners. Other organizations will recycle parts of AFOs, like metal loops and fasteners. Certain professionals may even accept orthotics for use in teaching clinics.

Although your old AFOs are plastic and completely recyclable, it is worthwhile to donate them. After all, they were expensive to obtain, and you might improve the quality of life of a child with cerebral palsy or another disability.

Ways to Donate Used AFOs

Check with your orthotist. Orthotists often use donated AFOs in teaching clinics. Even if your orthotist can’t use it, many orthotics offices will reclaim AFOs and donate them to charitable organizations such as Doctors Without Borders.

Check with your physical therapist. Physical therapists may use old AFOs for demonstrative teaching purposes, or to allow a child to “test drive” an AFO before purchasing one of their own. Your PT may also be aware of other families who need affordable orthotics.

Check with hospitals and churches. Local hospitals may be able to offer guidance about where to donate the AFO. Churches may be able to assist you in donating, as missionaries sometimes donate used orthotics to the communities where they serve. Failing that, Shriners is well-known for accepting, refitting, and donating old orthotics.

Check with local therapy centers. Many pediatric therapy or orthopedics centers accept used orthotics and have a recycling or donation program in place.

Donate to needy children in third-world countries. Still having trouble recycling your AFOs locally? Think globally! Many organizations transport used orthotics to impoverished countries and distribute them to children with disabilities. A few of these organizations include:

  • The Club Foot Club collects donated AFOs for redistribution in Papua New Guinea and Uganda. You can find AFO donation information here.
  • The Embraced is an Atlanta-based organization that distributes assistive mobility and prosthetic devices to needy individuals both locally and globally.

If you know of any other great AFO donation resources, please don’t hesitate to let us know. Throwing away your costly AFOs is painful – but recycling them to improve the lives of children in need feels wonderful!


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Spotlight On: Variety the Children’s Charity


Variety the Children’s Charity is an organization that strives to enable children with disabilities to live life to the fullest with a focus on mobility, communication, and social inclusion / interaction.

The experiences that many of us took for granted growing up are the ones that Variety makes possible, such as having the opportunity to go Trick-or-Treating in an accessible environment, visiting with Santa Claus in a safe / comfortable atmosphere, and even riding a bike for the first time.

Specifically, Variety’s “My Bike” Program provides adaptive bikes that are individually customized to eligible children with disabilities, so that they can experience the joy, freedom, and belonging that comes from riding a bike. Cerebral palsy is one of the top three diagnoses of the kids that have received a bike through the program.

Currently, Variety has 150 adaptive bikes sponsored and available for eligible children with disabilities in our Western Pennsylvania service area. You can download the application on the Variety website.

Changing Lives, One Bike at a Time

Variety has heard repeatedly from parents that these bikes are life-changing not only for the child, but for the entire family. They are giving children with disabilities the opportunity to discover the possibilities for their lives and to experience moments that many of us would mark as childhood milestones.

Emily’s feelings of joy from riding a bike for the very first time in her life really help to show the impact that these adaptive bikes are having on children – giving them moments to feel happy and proud. You can hear the joy in her voice in this short video.

We recently received a letter from Laura, mother of Connor, who received an adaptive bike through Variety’s “My Bike” Program. Laura said, “I cannot describe the feelings of Joy that I feel when Connor rides his bike ‘as fast as he can’ and all you hear from him is a gut wrenching laugh that becomes infectious to me as I try to keep up with him… that is something you don’t always see in a child that can’t always do what typical kids do, but the more he rides the more typical he becomes.”
Laura’s words are what Variety hopes for every child – to laugh, to have fun, to experience moments with his/her family, and to no longer be left out or left behind.

Mary, mother of James also explains the impact that the adaptive bike has created for James and her entire family by saying, “I don’t think I’ll ever get used to the surge of joy that I feel when I see James on his bike – dreams really do come true. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that a couple weeks after receiving his bike, James walked independently for the first time, taking 14 steps from our kitchen into our living room… All by himself! This bike is more than just three wheels, a handle bar and a seat. It’s a doorway to freedom.”

Help Us Spread the Word

Right now, Variety is searching for every eligible child in our Western Pennsylvania service area for our “My Bike” Program – to make sure that children like Emily, Connor, James and so many others can have opportunity to experience life to the fullest – and more simply, to be a kid first.

Any help to spread the word is greatly appreciated. As one mom said, “How can we apply for something we never even knew existed?” Her words have continued to fuel us in wanting to make sure that no eligible child misses out on this opportunity.

Please visit our website ( or call Variety directly (412-747-2680) to learn more.


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