Deep in the heart of the Sooke Community Hall basement is a little office, nestled just next to the Sooke Food Bank. It doesn’t look like much, but once you step inside, you see it’s as big as the hearts of the volunteers who run it everyday.
It is known as the Sooke Loan Cupboard, an organization of volunteers that has served Sooke since 1970, by providing medical equipment, such as walking canes, wheelchairs, four-wheel walkers, crutches, among others, to those in need. As such, its cupboards are filled with equipment from top to bottom.
It is there by the community, for the community, providing medical equipment for home care needs of all kinds. It’s not just for seniors, either – the folks at the Cupboard even have crutches for young children, should they need them.
“It’s for Sooke residents, period. If you have an operation, or break your leg, and the doctor says you have to be in crutches or in a wheel chair, that can get expensive, so we provide the alternative,” said Elleanor Schneider, one of several volunteers at the Cupboard.
The Cupboard does charge a fee, albeit small, for renting stuff out: for canes and crutches, it’s $5 for two months, and wheelchairs or four-wheel walkers are $10 for one month.
All the earnings go towards keeping the equipment functional, clean and up to date.
“We use the money for cleaning supplies, because everything has to be cleaned and sterilized before it’s put back on the shelves,” Schneider said, adding that the Cupboard is always looking to update its inventory with newer and more efficient equipment, but that proposition can get expensive.
The Cupboard isn’t alone though. The Sooke Community Association also pitched in by allowing the organization to operate from the community hall free of charge, and the Sooke community has been good at donating just about anything to the cupboard, thus expanding the availability of the equipment.
“The community is very generous at donating things that their families no longer require,” said Pat Boon, another Cupboard volunteer.
“We do have to periodically get rid of stuff that is worn out or broken, but overall it’s great.”
The Loan Cupboard is the only operation of its kind in the Sooke region. A smaller satellite organization does exist in East Sooke as well.
The Cupboard also has its own volunteer-based transportation program for medical appointments that take people to Sooke, Colwood, Langford and Victoria, though the program is in dire need of volunteer drivers.
And no doubt, the demand is here. Just last year alone there were more than 700 loans made, with that number expected to grow as Sooke’s population goes up.
“We have quite a supply, which is great, because there are weeks when the demand is very high. Sometimes everyone just manages to injure themselves and come in waves,” chuckled Schneider.
The Cupboard is by appointment only, as it has no set schedule. This is done to provide the volunteers with a fair amount of flexibility during any day of the week. Those interested can call 250-389-4607 to book a time.