By Joel Hall
The Walmart Supercenter of Riverdale, the Riverdale Police Department, and Riverdale Fire Services recently helped make life a little more comfortable for more than two dozens senior citizens.
Walmart donated 25 portable, box fans to seniors in the Riverdale area, many of whom are on fixed incomes or lack central air and heating in their homes. Clients of SARAHCare (Senior Adult Recreation and Health Care) of Riverdale, an adult daycare center located on Ga. Highway 138 in Riverdale, received the bulk of the fans after local police and fire officials identified a segment of the population with the greatest need.
The fans were delivered to SARAHCare last Wednesday by Walmart employees, who carried the fans in by hand. SARAHCare of Riverdale Activities Director Sadie Norman Reid said staff members and clients of the center were "flabbergasted" by the kind gesture, as many of the center's elderly clients have difficulty cooling their homes.
"I thought that it was the best thing ever, because it really helped a lot of our residents," Reid said. "A lot of our clients aren't necessarily indigent, but they are in need of some assistance. All of them are on a fixed income. I've already talked to some of the clients who received some, and it really made a difference ... just even for staying healthy. Some of the clients in the Riverdale area have respiratory problems, and they really need to be able to get air circulating through the house. Air that is circulating is much better than stagnant air."
Reid said SARAHCare clients received 20 of the fans, and five of the fans were delivered to nearby residents by social workers.
Walmart Supercenter of Riverdale General Manager Fontain Arnold said that while his store partners with Riverdale police every Christmas to sponsor its "Shop With a Cop" program for needy families, this is the first time the store has donated fans to the community. While the box fans only cost about $15 a piece, having one can make a difference, he said.
"[The] elderly have health issues and they have a hard time dealing with the heat, because they are fixed incomes," Arnold said. "We thought that we could partner with the police and fire department and do something. They actually found a location for us [to make the donation]. It was very successful. The little difference that it makes is huge."
Officer Stephanie Burton, G.R.E.A.T. (Gang Resistance Education and Training) program coordinator for the Riverdale Police Department, and one of the coordinators of the donation, said that 41 out of the last 60 days this summer have seen temperatures higher than 90 degree, and that the fans could help prevent heat stroke and heat exhaustion.
"Riverdale has quite a mixture with its population, but we do have a decently-sized elderly community," Burton said. "It's something to help them cut costs. We're excited because it was something new, and it was actually needed. I think it shows that businesses are not just out to obtain money ... They are here to give back to the community that is supporting them."