May 11, 2013 1:33:12 PM
Jan Swoope - [email protected]
When a Mississippi summer hits its stride, those unable to cool their homes suffer miserably. The results can be life-threatening. That was a reality United Way of Lowndes County and the Helping Hands agency decided seven years ago they could try to improve. Since their first coordinated fan drive in 2006, more than 600 fans have been distributed to Lowndes County residents in need, with an emphasis on seniors and the infirm.
The 2013 fan drive kicks off Monday. Individuals, families, Sunday School classes, Scout troops and civic clubs are urged to donate new box fans to the cause, or to donate funds for United Way to purchase fans in quantity.
"Sometimes we think there's nothing we can do; there are all these people who need all this help. But a $20 fan can be a huge blessing to someone who can't afford one. Most of us can do that; we can do that," said Nancy Guerry, executive director of Helping Hands, the non-profit food bank which will distribute the fans.
Guerry recounted a story about a past fan recipient, a mother caring for her bed-ridden son. A small window unit in the front of the family's home, when there was enough money to run it at all, couldn't cool the stifling rear bedroom, where her son stayed. The gift of a new box fan that could be placed in a hallway to direct air into the bedroom reduced the mother to near tears.
"The fans go to people in real need, and I bet there's a lot more than we know," remarked Guerry.
Applicants for fans will be asked to provide ID and a utility bill in their name. For more information about applying, contact Helping Hands at 662-328-8301.
Fans may be donated at the United Way or Helping Hands agencies located at 223 22nd St. N. in Columbus, said Melissa Duncan of the United Way office. Office hours are Monday through Thursday, 8:30 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., and Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
"But if someone needs to bring fans on a Saturday or later in the afternoons, just call and we'll make arrangements," pledged Guerry. "You may think donating a fan isn't a big thing -- but it is a big thing to the people who receive them," the agency director added.
The drive will last at least through July, Duncan noted.
For more information, contact the United Way of Lowndes County, 662-328-0943, or Helping Hands, 662-328-8301.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.