For several days earlier this year, members of the Grove Rotary Club passed out smiles, hugs and wheelchairs, as part of the group's initiative to help people in the Nogales, Arizona and Sonora, Mexico area, receive wheelchairs.

The effort, which works with the St. Andrew’s Children’s Clinic in Nogales, to spread the club members’ donations of wheelchairs to needy children and older adults living in northern Mexico.

The clinic is a non-profit, non-denominational facility that provides services to children living in Mexico who cannot get the care or afford the care they need in their home country.

This is the third year the Grove Rotary has hosted fundraising drives. To date, the club has raised $46,800

Grove Rotary held fundraising drives in 2015 and 2016, raising a total of $46,800 to provide more than 300 sturdy wheelchairs in five sizes.

This year, the club has set a goal of filing at least half of a container - 110 wheelchairs. In addition to regular chairs, which cost $150, the group hopes to fill the clinic's requests for special needs chairs, which cost $450 each.

The wheelchair project is in partnership with the American Wheelchair Mission, a non-profit organization that organizes the manufacture, shipping and distribution of chairs. The mission’s goal is to provide brand new wheelchairs at no cost to physically disabled children, teens and adults throughout the world who need a chair and cannot afford it.

The organization estimates that more than 100 million people worldwide do not have the means to acquire a wheelchair that would improve their lives immeasurably.

At this year’s wheelchair distribution 11 representatives of Grove Rotary went to Nogales to distribute the chairs at the Arizona clinic and in homes in northern Mexico.

Participants included Judy McHenry, Suzanne Knott, Pauline Hale, Jim Corbridge, Sarah Dyer, Bill Dyer, Sam Grasso, Bob Brogdon, Geneva Brogdon, Don Wasson and Margaret Wasson, all of Grove.

The wheelchairs, each featuring a Grove Rotary decal, were distributed in conjunction with one of the monthly medical clinics held in Nogales.

To donate funds toward the wheelchair project, persons interested may contact a member of the Grove Rotary Club. Checks may be made payable to the American Wheelchair Mission, with Grove Rotary Club in the memo line. Additional information may be found at https://amwheelchair.org.

Those wanting to donate a wheelchair, but are in need of additional information, may do so by contacting Robert Carter, chairman of the Grove Rotary Club International Committee, 918-314-5245 or rcarter918@aol.com.