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Palmer nonprofit working on warehouse to store used medical equipment

Tina Ervin started the ACE Lending Closet after her son Austin was badly injured in a car crash. She gives all equipment and supplies away for free.
Published: Nov. 9, 2020 at 7:20 PM AKST
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PALMER, Alaska (KTUU) - What started as a passion project collecting medical supplies, has now filled Tina Ervin’s front yard with eight Conex boxes.

“We have about 50 hospital beds,” Ervin pointed out in one Conex. “I could do a couple acres in crutches just making a fence out of them. We have, like, a thousand crutches."

Ervin founded a nonprofit organization called the ACE Lending Closet and gives everything away for free. ACE stands for “Austin’s Compassion Exchange." The name Austin is in honor of her son.

“You don’t realize how many people are out there in need until they come and talk to you and it’s very humbling to help somebody else. I was helped when my son was in an accident,” Ervin said.

Austin was five years old when he was nearly killed in a car crash in 2013.

“On arrival, they had to bring him back. He was gone almost ten minutes. He ended up being a quadriplegic on a ventilator. He has to have a ventilator to live,” she explained.

Now 12 years old, Austin is in seventh grade, receiving teaching at home because of the pandemic. He’s proud of the work his mom has put in to give back to others.

“It helps other people when their loved ones are hurt and she helps people get supplies,” Austin said.

As Ervin’s inventory grows, she needs more room to store equipment. The nonprofit’s next step is to construct a warehouse. Building the space is costly and time-consuming but Ervin has some help from local businesses.

Jamie Bailey owns Big Country Excavating and donated his time and materials to get her yard ready for the new building.

“I just wanted to get involved. When someone’s putting all that heart into it with no help. How far could they go if they had a little help,” Bailey said.

Now, they need the community to pitch in to get the project finished, including donations for concrete and trusses.

“People come forward and help us get enough concrete to get the slab down I’ll be out here helping her pour it myself,” Bailey said.

Ervin knows dealing with medical problems can be difficult for families. She hopes to ease their burden just a little by getting people what they need, no price tag attached.

“No parent should have to go through what I went through and if I can help somebody to help them go through, give them stuff to help them ease their pain so they don’t have to worry,” Ervin said.

She hopes to have construction on the warehouse completed next summer. For now, she’ll keep stockpiling equipment and supplies in the Conex boxes.

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