The recent reprieve from scorching temperatures was an unexpected surprise for Arkansans, but it was short-lived. With triple digits looming, many senior citizens in Pine Bluff have to find a way to keep cool.
Each summer the Area Agency on Aging of Southeast Arkansas and America’s Car-Mart on Blake Street team up to provide fans for those in need.
On Tuesday Carolyn Ferguson, officer of community services at the Area Agency, met with General Manager Dishawn Bell at Car-Mart to receive the fans that the company had collected for the organization.
“We have an annual fan drive promotion where customers bring in four box fans and we take $1,000 off of their down payment,” Bell said, adding that the promotion has been in place for at least 10 years.
This year Car-Mart collected more than 150 box fans that the Area Agency will distribute to needy residents in Pine Bluff. It took a van and an additional truck filled to capacity to transport the fans to the Area Agency.
The Area Agency began giving away fans in 1992, starting with a car-wash fundraiser.
“We made exactly $287,” Ferguson said. “I will never forget it, because it was hot out there. We were selling popcorn and hot dogs.”
Those in need of fans contact the Area Agency and are placed on a waiting list. Once the agency has possession of the fans, it begins contacting those on the list and makes appointments for them to come and pick one up.
This year about 20 people from the neighborhoods surrounding Car-Mart had appointments to pick up their fans Tuesday at the car lot.
The number of people on the waiting list each year varies. Ferguson said there are about 100 people currently on the list. With the contribution made by Car-Mart, everyone on the list should receive a fan.
“Of course if there is someone that is homebound and can’t come, I will personally do a home visit,” Ferguson said. “I take their fan to them because I do not want anyone doing without, especially an elderly or disabled person.”