NORWICH, Conn. (WTNH)– Every year around the holidays, a Norwich pawnbroker changes lives with the “Gift of Mobility.”
It all started a decade ago with a few motorized wheelchairs that didn’t sell.
“It got around the holiday season and I said, you know what, let me put an ad in the papers, have people write in and tell me their story and to see if anyone needs one,” said Phil Pavone, owner of AZ Pawn. “I got 60 letters.”
Hearing from all of those people sparked an idea.
“There are so many people out there that are in need that don’t qualify for these chairs,” he said. “There’s thousands of these chairs that are out there that are unwanted.”
Now every year, he seeks out old wheelchairs to connect them with the people who desperately need them. He, along with volunteers, spends all year finding and restoring chairs. It all comes together at a massive chair giveaway.
This year, nearly 100 people will pick up a life-changing wheelchair on December 1 at the Norwich Holiday Inn.
They’re worth thousands of dollars but it takes some time to match the person to the chair.
“These chairs are not one size fits all,” Pavone said.
He asks that people requesting chairs list their disability, height, weight and even if they’re right or left-handed to find the right chair for the right person.
“These chairs are a chance for people to do normal things again,” said Pavone. “These chairs are independence.”
If you or someone you know is in need of a wheelchair, they’re looking for you over the next three weeks. Visit azpawngiftofmobility.com or call the shop at 860-889-4474.