Group Sends Medical Supplies Abroad, Saves Landfills in U.S.

More than 12,000 volunteers a year is still not enough to complete an ongoing mission of improving health care and the environment. Volunteers came to MedShare last Saturday to help sort, organize, and pack medical supplies donated to the organization through partnership with over 30 hospitals.

“The donated supplies are generally results from hospitals that have product overage, are switching brands, or have kits that were opened but never used,” said Lindsey Barber, senior programs manager at MedShare.

Volunteers sort and pack medical supplies that come into the nonprofit’s 48,500 square-foot. warehouse. “The volunteers sort the supplies and check that the items are not broken or damaged. Then, they pack the supplies which get inventoried and then stored into the warehouse,” said Volunteer Coordinator David Winograd.

Once the supplies get registered into the inventory, MedShare’s unique approach comes into place.

“Rather than [MedShare] saying who needs what, we receive applications from regions that need certain medical supplies,” said Barber. “Once the applicants are approved, they can go online and handpick what supplies they need so they receive a customized container that serves the region’s purpose abroad. This way no supplies are wasted and each health care facility receives exactly what they need."

In addition to supplies, MedShare also receives and sends biomedical equipment.

Vanessa Givens, of Duluth, wanted to give back. “I was looking to volunteer and after the Haiti earthquake, I heard about MedShare. By being here, I really felt it was meaningful that my two or three hours of volunteering here are helping someone in the world," said Givens, who has been volunteering for a year.

By sending the medical supplies to needy regions, which also include clinics in Georgia and California, MedShare has helped health care facilities in over 85 countries and supplied over 1,800 medical mission teams since its founding in 1998. Additionally, by receiving donated medical supplies, the organization also saved more than 1.7 million cubit feet of space, or 3,500 tons of medical supplies and equipment, from ending up in U.S. landfills.

Volunteers clocked in more than 36,000 hours, sorted through 803,000 lbs. of donated supplies, and packaged 37,000 boxes in 2010.

"Being a nonprofit, there is no way we could hire over 12,00o people to do this on a daily basis," said Barber, of the constant need for volunteers. "[MedShare] would be nowhere without its dedicated volunteers."

To volunteer with MedShare, visit