Austinites share what inspired them to donate to help people stay cool through Family Eldercare Summer Fan Drive


AUSTIN (KXAN) — The people who donated Friday to the 31st annual Family Eldercare Summer Fan Drive shared a common commitment to help those struggling to stay safe and cool during the sweltering hot weather in Central Texas.

Early Friday morning, Lawrence Vaults and other members of the Omega Psi Phi fraternity piled out of three trucks at the Whittlesey Landscape Supplies location in Round Rock. They dropped off more than 200 fans they started collecting in May to give to Family Eldercare. Vaults said he and the other local fraternity members have been donating fans for almost eight years now.

“Last year we had about 125 [fans to donate], but I think we went over 200 today,” Vaults said. “Hopefully next year we’ll be able to do more.”

He said it took a little more work this year for his fraternity brothers to reach this number of donations.

“They came through like they usually do,” Vaults said, smiling. “It took a little prodding, but they did come through in the end.”

A steady stream of vehicles pulled through the KXAN studio parking lot later Friday so people could donate money as well as boxes of fans. Annette Hicks, who’s lived in Austin for almost 40 years, dropped off a fan and a $100 bill. She said she’s been consistently donating to the Family Eldercare fan drive for almost 25 years.

“I have aging parents who are well taken care of, and so I just like to give a little extra love,” Hicks explained. “Plus, I used to be a Meals on Wheels volunteer and saw the need while I was doing that program, so I just wanted to continue to give and help out those that are aging. I’m going to be there someday soon, so I’d just like to give back to our community.”

William Baker of Austin stopped by Friday to deliver a check to the volunteers collecting donations. He’s kept up his contributions to this cause for the past few years.

“I know that there are people who don’t have air conditioning or can’t use it, because it’s so expensive. I think that makes it worthwhile,” Baker said. “It would be better if we could afford to give them all air conditioners, but we can’t, and they may not have the money to run the air conditioner even if we gave it to them.”

Sandy Morris’ vehicle (KXAN photo/Will DuPree)

Sandy Morris decorated her SUV Friday with a sign urging people to donate to the fan drive and highlighting the fundraising team she started that’s named for her white-faced dachshund, Lily. For the past 10 years, Morris served on the board of directors for Family Eldercare, and she explained why she maintained her desire to give back.

“I fell in love with the concept of helping the most vulnerable people in Central Texas stay cool,” Morris said. “I’m standing here in the parking lot, and it’s just so hot. I cannot imagine living without air conditioning.”

Morris said she’s matching all the donations people give to the Lily the Long Dog fan drive team.

“If you think about the heat we live with in Central Texas, this summer might feel a little cooler,” she said, “but with the humidity you walk outside to walk the dog, and you’re reminded of everyone that might need some help.”

At one point Friday, a woman anonymously dropped off a $10,000 check to contribute to the fan drive, which KXAN’s Jim Spencer revealed during a live interview with Family Eldercare’s Virgina Larson.

The fan drive drop-off locations will close Friday at 7 p.m. However, people can still contribute money online through the end of August by following this link.

Family Eldercare set out a goal to collect $200,000 in monetary donations during this year’s fan drive, so the organization could purchase fans in bulk tax free to give to those in need.

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