For people in Third World countries who are unable to walk, receiving a PET can be life-changing. When presented with the opportunity to help, Second Christian Reformed Church in Pella, Iowa, was eager to be part of that life change.
A PET—Personal Energy Transportation—wheelchair, propelled by a hand crank, is fitted with solid puncture-proof tires and has a wooden box on the back. Started nearly 20 years ago, the goal of PET International is the “gift of mobility for all of God’s people in need,” including those who have been affected by polio, land mines, birth defects, or amputations.
In July 2011, PET IA-Leighton became an affiliate of PET International. When the affiliate did a presentation at Second CRC, it wasn’t long until the church put its full support behind the organization.
“Our goal the first year was $6,250, and we raised about $8,500,” said Zach Vander Linden, a member of Second CRC. “This year our goal was to raise funds for 30 PETs, which was $7,500, and we raised almost $15,000. The extra money was donated to PET for operating costs.”
But the church’s support has been more than financial. In 2012 and again this past summer, a team from Second CRC spent a day building PETs. This summer, in fact, they were present as the Leighton affiliate cranked out its 600th PET.
“Our church is pretty mission oriented,” said Vander Linden. “The leadership of the church creates opportunities for people to get involved. We viewed this as an opportunity to lend a helping hand but also as an opportunity to fellowship as members across generations. As a church, we are passionate about what this ministry is doing to give hope to ‘the least of these’ across the world.”
Two members of Second CRC have supported the PET IA-Leighton in extraordinary ways. Brent Pierson, co-owner of Pierson Seeds, offered to be their local warehouse and store the units, once built and boxed, until they are ready to be shipped. Bill Wilson, an employee of Vermeer Manufacturing who manages a paint line, was able to work out an agreement to paint a large percentage of the metal components of the PETs at no charge, which, Vander Linden said, was a “huge boost to them.”
To date, more than 38,000 PETs have been distributed in over 100 countries at no cost to the recipients. Second CRC may be part of another building milestone in the future; Vander Linden said the church intends for this to be a long-standing partnership.