Those looking to beat the heat — and in need of some help — are in luck, as the Harvey County Salvation Army (208 W. Sixth St., Newton) will be partnering with Westar Energy for its annual fan distribution from 10 a.m. to noon June 12.
Since Harvey County Salvation Army coordinator Barbara Lee has been with the local branch, she said the fan distribution has continued to grow each year. This year, Westar is providing 130 fans to give away in Newton to qualified individuals (i.e. elderly and disabled registered with the Salvation Army without air conditioning or other means of staying cool who have not received fans in prior years), which is a big deal.
"We know that, in Kansas especially, it can get pretty hot and even just a box fan can help people stay cooler during the day, help get cool air into the home at night and keep people safe when the weather is dangerous," said Salvation Army Kansas/Western Missouri Division public relations manager Doug Donahoo. "That is at the very core of the Salvation Army's mission to keep helping people."
"It's a big impact because those people don't have air conditioners, so basically, we get rid of the 130. If we don't give them all that day, it'll be within that week. They go real fast," Lee said. "They're excited and glad to get a fan."
For those without the means to stay cool in the summer months, the distribution means a lot, and that registration is key as the giveaway is limited to one fan per household.
In the past, Lee noted the donated fans have been given to the elderly and disabled mentioned — as well as to those in transition at New Jerusalem Missions.
"Whichever way Salvation Army can help to better people's lives, we're all for that. That's what we do," Lee said.
Usually given away during mid-June, the fan distribution through Westar and Salvation Army has grown more and more popular over the years. While the giveaway used to be stretched out over the summer, Lee noted that now it is not uncommon for all the fans to be unloaded on the day of distribution.
On June 12, Westar will be set up across the street from the Harvey County Salvation Army by 10 a.m., ready to give out fans as well as water bottles. Both organizations are hoping for yet another strong turnout.
"The Salvation Army is helping us reach some of the most vulnerable members of our communities and help them stay safe during the heat of summer," said Cynthia McCarvel, corporate community affairs manager for Westar Energy. "Expanding this program allows us to reach more homes and help those in need."
"We hope, like we do every year, to make sure all 130 fans are given out to people who are in need," Lee said.
Helping relieve the sweltering summer heat, fans can be a boon for the families they go to on the day of distribution. Below are some additional safety tips to practice in the summer:
Never leave children or pets alone in enclosed vehicles.
Slow down, stay indoors and avoid strenuous exercise during the hottest part of the day.
Take frequent breaks if working outdoors.
Use a buddy system when working in excessive heat.
Check on family, friends and neighbors who do not have air conditioning, who spend much of their time alone or who are more likely to be affected by the heat.
Check on animals frequently to ensure that they are not suffering from the heat. Ensure they have water and a shady place to rest.
Eat small meals and eat more often.
Avoid extreme temperature changes.
Wear loose-fitting, lightweight, light-colored clothing.
For more information on how to register for the fan distribution, call the Harvey County Salvation Army at 316-283-3190.