[July 1, 2021: Gary Horcher]
Motivated by withering, historic 106-degree heat, Jason Smith decided to drive to the first box store closest to his home in Bonney Lake, which had portable air conditioning units available. He found that store.
In Redding, California.
While Smith drove 1,300 miles to make the round trip overnight, he had time to think. “In my truck, I thought I had room for 17 more, and so I grabbed 17 and thought if anyone is interested in them, they could pick them up for exactly what I paid for them,” he said.
Smith put the offer out on Facebook, and the wheels of social media started turning, while he was coming home.
“I offered to help because I know some people with money,” said Scott Tanner, who contacted several auto dealers in Sumner and Puyallup. Two dealers offered cash to buy several of the $400 units so that Tanner and Smith could deliver potential, lifesaving relief to people in need. One of them was Charli Johnson, whose husband was recently diagnosed with severe heart disease and high blood pressure and ordered by doctors not to lift anything heavier than half a gallon of milk.
“He was in a 100 -degree room,” Johnson said. “It was stressful. Nobody was sleeping. We have always been the people who gave everything we had to everybody. It’s really hard when you’re the person to suddenly find yourself in a position of need. It’s really hard when you’re the person to ask for help. We don’t do that well.”
Johnson said Smith’s act of cool kindness is heartwarming — and heart-saving.
Vern Pomerinke is a 71-year-old Vietnam veteran who said he may have experienced heat this intense before. “Maybe in Vietnam,” he said. “But I was younger then, too.”
Pomerinke’s son Jarrod responded to the Facebook offer. “He’s been staying at my house for the last couple of days, trying to get out of the heat,” he said.
“I’m so grateful,” said Pomerinke.
Some decided to call Smith and his fellow volunteers the “A-C Angels.”
“They’ve earned their wings,” said Johnson. “Big time. They have earned their wings.”
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