As temperatures reach close to 100 degrees this week – or maybe higher Friday and Saturday – police in York arrived Monday at the York County Council on Aging Senior Center just in the nick of time, with a load of 20 fans for seniors who have no air conditioning or other means to keep cool.
Brenda Long of York, on a fixed income without even a few dollars to spare, sure needed the help after her fan died in a power outage late last week. And she has no air conditioning, either.
“I didn’t know what I was going to do; this fan is a true blessing,” Long told police Sgt. Dale Edwards. “Did God send y’all by here today?”
It wasn’t God, just Edwards and several other York cops with a truckload of fans.
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Edwards, community outreach officer for the department, bought the fans from the Lowe’s Home Improvement store in York, which gave him a discounted price. Edwards collected donations, and officers even kicked in from their own money to make sure the elderly, the poor and the vulnerable in York have some way to try to keep cool.
“In this heat, we want to try to help as many people as possible,” Edwards said.
Temperatures will be at least in the mid- to upper 90s all week, National Weather Service forecasts show. The Weather Channel is forecasting a high of 101 Friday and Saturday.
The senior center in York helps identify seniors such as Long who come to the center for services, but also from homebound lists of people who depend on delivered meals and other assistance. Elaine Kershaw, site director, said many seniors who have worked hard all their lives are too proud to ask for help with a fan, but the center offers the free fans to those people identified by volunteers and staff, too. The York center serves all of western York County.
“Many seniors, unfortunately, are just making it,” Kershaw said. “These fans can help the most vulnerable out there stay cool.”
Other police agencies, including the York County Sheriff’s Office and Chester County Sheriff’s Office, also give out fans during the hottest summer months. York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant has partnered with charities for a decade to identify vulnerable seniors and others in “Operation Cool Breeze.”
In Chester County, Sheriff Alex Underwood started a fan drive and delivery program for low-income, vulnerable people soon after taking office in 2013. His deputies make site visits and deliver the fans.
York cops have delivered donated fans the past four years, Police Chief Andy Robinson said, and consider it part of the job of helping the community.
“The people these fans help are good people, proud people who deserve any help we can give them,” he said. “When we say protect and serve – we mean it.”
Need help? Want to help?
All the fan drives by police agencies depend on donations. Call these agencies if you want to help, need help yourself, or know of someone who needs help:
York Police Department: 803-684-4141
York County Sheriff’s Office: 803-628-3059
Chester County Sheriff’s Office: 803-581-5131