JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - Members of the United Way of Northeast Arkansas are asking for the public's help to keep area seniors safe.
The 4th annual United Way Fan Drive is underway.
Director of Business Development with the United Way of Northeast Arkansas Shaila Creekmore said they've partnered with the Helping Neighbors Food Pantry on the project.
"We've been doing this fan drive over the years with Helping Neighbors," Creekmore said. "We usually start it in the early summer and run it until around July 31st. It's an opportunity for people to bring in fans or make a donation. Then, Helping Neighbors Food Pantry distributes those fans. So, it's a great partnership that we have with them to be able to get those fans out to the people that need them."
Creekmore said they want to get a fan to everyone that needs one.
"So, Helping Neighbors specifically focuses on senior citizens that they serve who need fans," Creekmore said. "So, anyone over the age of 65, senior citizen, can go there and get a fan. But also people who have respiratory illnesses and those types of things can also contact them about getting those because people who have breathing difficulties or any type of breathing disorder in the heat it just multiplies that. And, of course, our seniors, they already have a rough time in the heat. If you can just imagine sitting in a hot house all day, how miserable that is. Even a fan, something moving the air in their home helps."
Creekmore said the drive did so well last year they were able to expand it to more than seniors.
"Last year we were lucky enough to get a large number of donations," Creekmore said. "Because of that, we were able to open this up to other families as well. But we always start with the seniors and those who have breathing difficulties."
Creekmore said people don't realize many seniors are forced to make hard choices.
"We were actually told a story about an elderly couple," Creekmore said. "They had no working air and the wife said to her husband that they were going to have to cut back on something next week, so they could go and buy a fan. You think a $20 fan isn't much, but someone on a fixed income who only has a certain amount of money, that $20 is going to have to come from somewhere else. Thankfully, they were able to get a free fan. So, now they don't have to worry about giving something up like groceries or medicine. This makes a big difference."
Creekmore said something like a fan that may not seem like a big deal can actually save a life.
"Our summers are hot, and we want to keep our seniors safe," Creekmore said. "To us, it's a big deal. It's literally a life and death situation. You think a little $20 fan, but it makes a big difference in keeping those seniors. . .in providing them some sort of relief."
If you would like to give them a fan or donate money to purchase one, you can go to the United Way office at 407 Union Street in Downtown Jonesboro.
Creekmore said any fan donations need to be new and unopened.
She also said monetary donations are very useful.
"The great thing about a monetary donation," Creekmore said. "We have partnerships with our local businesses here in town, the big box stores, that will allow us to buy 10, 20 or 30 of those at a time at a reduced rate. So, the money donations go further. We're able to stretch those dollars because of those partnerships."
Checks can be dropped off at their office on Union as well or mailed to them.
You can also make a donation online.
If online is your choice, Creekmore said to specify that your donation is for fans.
For more information about the United Way of NEA or to make a donation, click here.