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Beat the Heat gears up to provide fans
Cheryl Carter, 64, sits in her apartment Friday with a fan she received from the Gainesville Hall County Community Service Center last year. The community center provides seniors with fans as part of their "Beat the Heat" program. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

The summer heat soon will be rolling in, with high temperatures forecast in the upper 80s by the end of next week. The Gainesville Hall County Community Service Center is doing its part to make sure the senior citizens of Hall County stay cool.

The "Beat the Heat" program is an annual drive to deliver and install electric fans to the older citizens of Hall County. New fans are accepted for donation or money to buy the fans is also accepted.

Last year, the center provided more than 150 fans to seniors.

One of the seniors, Cheryl Carter, 64, of Church Street Manor Apartments, has been a member of the community center for two years. She is encouraging other seniors in her apartment complex to sign up for a fan.

Carter got her fan last year as a back up in case her current fan breaks down. She said that keeping a fan in the apartment is "very useful" and it cuts down the air conditioning bill.

"It (the fan) helps me at night because I have emphysema," said Carter, who keeps her fan in her bedroom at night to provide cool air.

Deke Richards, social worker at the service center, has been a part of the "Beat the Heat" program for more than five years and says he looks forward to breaking the record of fans distributed each year.

"As you get older, the blood gets thinner, the skin gets thinner and seniors don’t realize how hot they are getting ... dehydration can happen in a skinny minute," Richards said.

Richards also makes sure to explain to seniors where to set up their fan for proper air circulation and requests that relatives check in on their elderly loved ones on a regular basis.

"Power bills have been outrageous ... this summer is just as bad and there are a large number of seniors who need fans," Richards said.