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Meals on Wheels Helping Hot Wilson Residents

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WILSON — Most people are complaining about the heat, but for some, it's more than an inconvenience, it's downright dangerous. Free fans are available to those who need them in many towns. Now, the city of Wilson is adding a twist to that tradition.

Mattie Fairchild knows better than most what it's like to be hot. She's gone through the stifling heat and unbearable humidity without air conditioning.

It gets hot where I'm at," says Fairchild. "Sometimes I'll be sitting over there and I've got the fan in my hand and my tongue out trying to get some air."

Though she's at risk for heat-related problems, Fairchild and dozens like her didn't even have a fan until Thursday. Now, thanks to the Wilson utilities department she has a brand new one that didn't cost her a cent.

The city will give away 35 fans this year. That's nothing new, the city and county have been working together for years to make this happen. But, there is one key difference about this year's effort -- the people making the deliveries.

The city asked Max Liles and dozens of other volunteers at Meals on Wheels to distribute fans along with their daily food. They figured the volunteers are the perfect people for the job because they already know residents who need help.

"You get the needs of the people and also a lot of times you'll find the doorbell's not working," says Liles "We repair doorbells, and doorknobs off doors ... just little odds and ends. Then you get attached to the people, then you become sensitive to their needs."

The deliveries will take a few days to complete. They hope to have every fan in place before the next big heat wave blows through.

City leaders say this is one of the most rewarding programs they do each year, but it's not for everyone. The free fans are available only to senior citizens who are at-risk for heat-related illness.

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Brian Bowman, Reporter
Brian Bowman, Photographer
MJ Ainsley, Web Editor

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