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Published December 18, 2008, 12:00 AM

Nonprofit Project HERO recognizes volunteers

Pam Gruchalla and Corinn Gromatka sorted through scores of donated medical supplies Wednesday at the Moorhead nonprofit agency for which they volunteer.

By: Benny Polacca, The Forum

Pam Gruchalla and Corinn Gromatka sorted through scores of donated medical supplies Wednesday at the Moorhead nonprofit agency for which they volunteer.

“We work as a team, right?” Gruchalla, of Fargo, said while sorting items from cardboard boxes at Project HERO – Healthcare Equipmemt Recycling Organization.

“We sure do,” Gromatka, of Horace, N.D., replied.

The duo, who work as nurses in Fargo-Moorhead, are among 152 people who volunteered this year at Project HERO. They worked during a Wednesday celebration that recognized the volunteers for their efforts during the past year.

The donated medical supplies and health care materials, such as durable wheelchairs, canes, adult diapers and bandages, are redistributed to those in need.

“It’s a great mission,” said Joyce Newton, Project HERO’s executive director. She said area health care organizations such as MeritCare and local medical supply stores are among those who have donated to the nonprofit.

Area health care providers, like Gruchalla and Gromatka, who go on overseas medical missions use Project HERO as a medical supply resource that will benefit patients.

Gruchalla and Gromatka both leave in February for a medical mission in Ecuador and will stop by Project HERO before they leave.

Project HERO also helps local residents in need, Newton said. For example, a man came in asking for surgical bandages earlier this week and the specific type of bandages were later located in the donation inventory, she said.

Newton said if residents are in need of an item and it is not in stock, names and numbers will be taken in case the item comes with later donations. There is a minimal fee charged for supplies, but if people cannot afford the fee, it could be waived, she said.

Project HERO is run by a 12-member governing board.

“The beauty for folks is that we don’t need them to give $100,” said board chairman Joel Fremstad because donating durable medical equipment, which can be used again and again, helps too. With those items, when a user returns it, the agency can repeat the donation cycle, he said.

Readers can reach Forum reporter

Benny Polacca at (701) 241-5504

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