M4A asks residents to be a ‘fan’ for seniors

Published 12:28 pm Thursday, June 28, 2012

With temperatures reaching dangerously high levels, low-income seniors in Chilton, Blount, Shelby, St. Clair and Walker counties need help staying cool.

The Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging (M4A) is seeking donations of new 20-inch electric box fans or funds to purchase new fans for the “Be a Senior Fan” drive, an outreach initiative to reduce or eliminate heat-related health and mortality risks to senior citizens.

According to Debbie Battles, the Director of Programs and Operations at M4A, there is no way to know just how many seniors are in need.

Battles said that though last year was the first year M4A had done a drive like this, the response was encouraging.

“We had between $200–$300 donated and somewhere around 30–50 fans.” It is difficult to keep track of all donations because their goal is to disperse them as quickly as possible.

“Last year was successful, but we have even more of a need this year. It just seems like our summers are getting hotter and hotter,” said Battles. “Budgets are tight for everyone, and it is our responsibility to help one another. Many of these seniors suffering from the oppressive heat are struggling to stay in their homes and stay independent.”

While there is no deadline, Battles stresses the urgency of the situation. “Temperatures are going up again this weekend, and, for seniors without air conditioning, the heat will be unbearable well into October. Those who can’t drive are trapped in their own homes.”

The M4A will assist as many people as possible, but can only do so much. Battles advises seniors on how to beat the heat: “Stay well hydrated, go to another location during the day, a library, a mall, anywhere to stay cool, and have someone check on you periodically.”

Battles encouraged the community to get involved, reminding locals that “most seniors have given their lives to helping others. It is their turn to receive that same support.”

You can drop fans off at any nearby senior center in Chilton, Blount, Shelby, St. Clair or Walker County or at M4A.

Used fans cannot be accepted because of safety concerns, but money will be accepted in any amount.

Checks can be made payable to Middle Alabama Area Agency on Aging and mailed to 15863 Hwy 25, Calera, Alabama 35040. Fans will be accepted at the same address.

M4A is also looking for churches or other public buildings that could be used during the day to allow seniors to stay cool.

For more information on how to donate or other ways to assist the M4A, contact Debbie Battles at 205-670-5770 or by email at Debbie.Battles@adss.alabama.gov.