Hands to Honduras Tela recycles local police, fire and rescue gear

Shelburne Police uniforms now get another life with the Tela Police, above right, as part of the Hands to Honduras Tela ‘s Giving Project. The group also delivered firefighter helmets and CPR training mannequins during its service trip in February


Thanks to a long-distance recycling effort, some former Shelburne Police uniforms are now are being worn by officers in the Central American country of Honduras.

Before the Hands to Honduras Tela group made its annual trip south in February, we learned that the Shelburne Police Department had some “outdated/not in code” police uniforms that were no longer needed. They asked if the Honduras police, where our group visits, might use the uniforms.

The collection included shirts, slacks, jackets, fluorescent vests and boots. I took pictures of the uniforms and emailed the mayor of Tela and asked if he would like the uniforms for his police department. He responded with an enthusiastic “yes.”

In February, we packed the uniforms in several donated suitcases and asked volunteers to include them in their checked baggage. For customs inspection, H2HT volunteers were given a letter from the Tela Mayor requesting the repurposed items.

When we presented the uniforms to the mayor, he gave us a big smile and hugs of appreciation. The Tela Police are currently replacing the Shelburne Police patches with their own official patches. When we return in February 2019, we will take additional uniforms.

Along the same lines, Shelburne Rescue contacted H2HT this summer about donating helmets that do not meet their current requirements.

Shelburne Rescue has been awarded a grant by Shelburne Charlotte Hinesburg Interfaith Projects to purchase new certified EMS helmets. The helmets will travel to Tela in February and will be used by the Tela Fire and Rescue department.

These aren’t the first local donations of equipment and supplies to find new use in Honduras.

In 2017, Shelburne Rescue donated two adult and three infant mannequins, along with training manuals, for hands-on CPR workshops.

The classes were taught in 2017 and 2018 to Tela Red Cross employees, national and municipal police and fire department members, municipality employees and the Tela Hospital medical staff.

Our volunteers will conduct more workshops in 2019.

All of these efforts are known as the Giving Project and they have allowed H2HT to provide many greatly needed items to Tela for over 14 years. This support has benefitted Tela police, firefighters, rescue personnel, Tela hospital staff and others.

So, from the Mayor and people of Tela to the Shelburne departments who shared their gear: “muchas gracias.”

Linda Gilbert is director of the Hands to Honduras Tela international humanitarian service program. [email protected].