Soaring temperatures during the coming summer months could mean misery for locals and even possible health risks and deaths.
According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control, about 658 people die each year in the United States due to heat exposure, with children under 4, the elderly and those with other health issues most at risk.
For about four years, the Westlake Ace Hardware store chain, which operates in 11 states, has teamed up with the Salvation Army to raise money to buy and distribute fans to those who cannot afford them.
Last year, the local partnership raised about $2,000, with 155 fans given away, said Lt. Joe West, co-corps officer of the Roswell Salvation Army. He added that the Ace store, which sells the fans to the nonprofit at cost, also donates 25 fans each year.
This year’s campaign officially began Thursday, but West was joined by several Westlake Ace Hardware employees at the 2801 N. Main St. location on Saturday to launch the local effort with a barbecue and donation drive.
Donations for any amount are accepted, but a $20 gift will buy an entire fan on behalf of those with financial need.
“We do get a lot of folks who come in, and through just talking with them through social services, they express need because of the extreme heat,” West said. “You know, for a lot of folks when their stuff breaks down, it is hard for them to afford to repair an AC unit or swamp cooler. So a lot of people just go on living without any cooling in the home.”
The local Salvation Army is involved in many charitable activities, including running a sober house, holding holiday gift and meal drives, and providing financial and employment assistance. One of its major fundraisers, an annual golf tournament, will occur next week, June 22, at 7 a.m. at the New Mexico Military Institute golf course.
Once the fan drive concludes in about 14 days, the Roswell Salvation Army will announce a distribution week, usually held in mid- or late July, West said. Check the newspaper for an announcement or call the Salvation Army offices, 622-8700.
Donations can be made at the Westlake Ace Hardware store or online at westlakehardware.com/fandrive.