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Patricia Rivers rings a bell as she collects donations at the Salvation Army kettle in front of the Food City grocery store in the St. Elmo community on Wednesday, Nov. 18, 2015, in Chattanooga, Tenn.

As temperatures continue to climb in the Tennessee Valley, more and more people need help beating the heat.

To meet that need, the Salvation Army has launched its second annual Beat the Heat campaign, which provides locals with free water, fans and help paying utility bills during the summer.

Hundreds of people — including families, children, and the homeless — have received aid, and dozens of fans have been distributed by caseworkers since the beginning of June, according to Kimberly George, the Salvation Army's director of marketing and development.

"In just two weeks, we have already distributed over 50 fans," George said in a news release. "The largest need we have in the summer is relief from the heat. The Salvation Army asks for new box fans and monetary support to provide utility assistance for low-income families."

How to help

Anyone willing to donate should mark all monetary gifts for fans and utility bill assistance 'Beat the Heat' and mail to 822 McCallie Ave., Chattanooga, TN 37403. Donations also are accepted online at www.csarmy.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY, according to the group's website.

If you or someone you know needs a fan, call 423-305-6200, she said.

The Salvation Army Day Center now is open for the homeless, and a hydration station outside offers free drinks of water during the heat of the day, when temperatures can become life-threatening. People also can swim for free in the East Lake Center pool.

"We've seen a lot of homeless [people] come to our day center when it gets really hot with heat exhaustion and sometimes dehydration," George said. "The East Lake Salvation Army has also seen over 100 children each day swimming to try to get relief from the heat."

Though many have been helped through its programs, George said donations to the organization have flagged recently. Organizers are hoping to receive more support, she said.

"We all feel how hot it is [as] we're all going outside or getting in our cars," she said. "Imagine having to live in those temperatures day in and day out. Very little can make a huge impact."

According to Paul Barys, WRCB's chief meteorologist, daytime temperatures will remain in the 90s for the next week, while storms are expected to roll in on a few evenings.

"For the week after, we may see more showers and storms, [but] in the meantime, keep hydrated and in the shade," he said.

"Need is right here at our doorstep, and for the past few months we've had an average of 200 families that we were not able to assist [and referred] to other agencies [because] we were not able to meet the need," George said. "We cannot do it without the community's support."

Contact staff writer Kim Sebring at 423-757-6322 or at ksebring@timesfreepress.com.

 

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