Fan club looks for donations to maintain some cool

Thursday, June 20, 2002

HOT DAYS IN THE SUMMERTIME

By Tammy Raddle ~ Southeast Missourian

Tina Rodgers is one of those people who just hates to say no. And since the heat has been on, the director of social services for the Salvation Army in Cape Girardeau has been struggling a bit.

People needing an electric fan come to her, and sometimes donations don't keep up with demands.

She recently got a call from a young couple with a new baby. They have no air conditioning, no fan, nothing to cool or move the stagnant, hot air in their house.

"I really worry about situations like that," Rodgers said. "For babies, the very young, and the elderly, heat can actually be life-threatening." Unfortunately, she had to turn this couple away for the time being. She is completely out of fans.

The Salvation Army has run its "fan club," providing electric fans to those in need, for several years thanks to donations.

"We've already distributed 80 fans this summer," Rodgers said.

Last summer they distributed 405 fans before the heat ended.

"I just bought 25 more fans, but they won't be available until Monday," she said. "I really hated to keep people like that waiting knowing their situation is serious."

That's why Rodgers would like for everyone in the Cape Girardeau area to check their basements, their attics, every storage room for old fans that can be donated to the Salvation Army.

For someone in need, there is no such thing as a fan that is too old.

"I actually gave away a fan last week that I know was at least 50 years old," said Rodgers. "But the lady who received it was just glad to have it."

Though the Salvation Army buys some fans to distribute every summer, it cannot afford to buy nearly enough to meet the demand.

"Luckily, we have a lot of businesses and individuals who are very good about getting fans to us. Some of them will even go out and buy new fans for us to distribute," she said.

At this time, the Salvation Army can only give one fan per family.

Rodgers notes that her organization sees very few families coming forward to receive fans that don't really need them.

"We've found that when people come to us to ask for this help, they really need it," she said.

All that is needed to qualify for a fan is the Social Security card for every member in the household.

Utility help

The East Missouri Action Agency has a program for assisting individuals who need help paying utility bills. But as Carla Vollertsen, Community Service Outreach Aid for the East Missouri Action Agency explains, the bad news is that the program is already almost out of money for the summer.

"We started with $20,000 June 3 for the program, and now we're down to only a little over $400," Vollertsen said. "So basically, we're out of money already for cooling assistance."

But, her agency also has a fan give-away program. There are income guidelines for it, though, and recipients must be over 60, disabled, or have a child under the age of 5 in the household. Also, recipients can only receive a fan every three years. Those who have questions about the program may call the East Missouri Action Agency at 334-5533.

Many people face the heat everyday because it is part of their job.

Mark Venable, who is currently working on a road and utilities project for Dutch Enterprises at Broadway and Henderson, says learning to deal with heat is just part of the job.

"We've all been noticing the heat for about a week. All of the sudden the temperature was getting around 90 and the humidity became high. That's what makes it uncomfortable," he said.

People like Venable who work in the heat for a living say the only thing to do is to drink a lot of water, and monitor yourself.

"I've found that one of the things that makes the biggest difference is to drink a lot of water the night before I start an outside job like this," said Venable. Then, he says, continue to drink lots of water throughout the day, and head for the shade when you feel yourself becoming overheated.

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