Austin fraternity donates 100 fans before weekend drive to cool off people in need

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A graduate fraternity in Austin donated 100 fans to Family Eldercare and KXAN’s Summer Fan Drive Thursday, illustrating a critical component to meeting the need each summer.

KXAN is collecting donations during the Fans From Fans event starting Friday at 7 a.m. at Shady Grove on Barton Springs Drive, but there’s still a need to keep cool before the warehouse fills up this weekend.

“This is really helping fill the gap of the fans that we need,” Virginia Larson, Family Eldercare’s development and events team lead, said of Thursday’s donation.

Austin’s chapter of Omega Psi Phi, a graduate chapter, have been collecting fans and cash from brothers since March.

“Our goal this year was 50,” Lawrence Vaults said, “but we exceeded our goal.”

In fact, the fraternity doubled its goal, thanks in part to Vaults, who serves as keeper of records and seal for the group. Part of his job is to convince his brothers to pitch in. “I hate to use the word harass,” he laughed, “but that’s what I did.”

He’s willing to do it because he knows there’s a growing need for those who can’t afford air conditioning but need to stay cool. “I don’t look at it as a fan, but we look at it as helping a person, an individual, sometimes a family.”

Larson said they were in the hole about 3,800 fans Thursday, with people signing up on a waiting list until donations roll in this weekend. Team drives like the fraternity’s help cut down the number of people in need.

“They come in and they go out the same day,” Larson said.

Indeed, just minutes after Vaults pulled away in his truck, a volunteer drove his SUV right up to the warehouse door and started loading 50 of the fans that were still stacked where the fraternity members left them. 

They headed to the Pflugerville Community Center, to provide relief in 50 hot homes with 50 more waiting for the next pick-up.

“Maybe next year we can maybe double it, Virginia,” Vaults said before he left. “Yeah, every year, double it more,” Larson replied. Chuckling, Vaults said, “We’ll try.”

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