A unique shopping cart is making things a lot easier for families in St. Joseph. Caroline's Cart doubles as a basket for groceries and wheel chair to accommodate children with special needs.
"A lot of people in the community don't realize what a need this is that we have for individuals and our children that are young with special needs," said Tammy Blakely, parent. "It's a gift. They don't realize they can't walk around the store. Everything is different."
The adaptive cart can hold up to 250 pounds. It has handles that open to load and unload, a foot rest, harness and a seat that faces the caregiver.
"It's really amazing because before we used to have to make a choice of waiting until we had enough people to push a wheel chair and a shopping cart at the same time, or just wait until she wasn't with us. And, that's not okay," said Deidre Mendez.
Now, Mendez can take her daughter Eva shopping without the worries.
"It's an effort to provide assistive technology for parents to make their experience a lot easier when they bring their children shopping," said Kenton Randolph, Randolph Seating & Mobility.
Randolph helped make the idea a reality after a meeting at Helen Davis School. He worked with Hy-Vee's Store Director Brad McAnally to make it happen.
"He came to me and said, 'hey, would you like to do this?' and, I said, 'sure,' recalled McAnally. "It's an easy no-brainer to do for the community."
And, for shoppers like Mendez, it's another step toward simplifying something many of us take for granted.
"I've started to see across the country, via the internet, a lot more of these showing up. I hope it continues because every community has this need," she said.
Randolph Seating & Mobility split the cost of the cart with Hy-Vee. The cart will be kept in the back of the store to make sure it's available. Those who need it should contact Hy-Vee to reserve it prior to visiting the store.
Read more about Caroline's Cart here.