6-year-old turns birthday into chance to give fans to the needy


Highlights

Sophia Morales, 6, donated 16 fans to Family Eldercare, which helps Austin residents without air conditioning.

Family Eldercare, whose fan drive runs through August, has helped keep needy residents cooler for 28 years.

Sophia Morales had a decision to make.

With Sophia’s 6th birthday approaching, her parents asked her if she wanted presents — or if she wanted to help the hungry with food donations or give fans to those without air conditioning. It was a lesson about the less fortunate, said Sophia’s father, Robert Morales.

So when she finally turned 6 on March 20, Sophia’s friends brought 16 box fans, mostly the 20-inch ones, to her birthday party, Morales said.

Almost three months later, Sophia and her dad on Tuesday dropped off their birthday loot at Austin Fire Station 29. Firefighters already had accumulated 60 or so other fans for Family Eldercare, an organization that provides services for older residents and those with disabilities in Central Texas. For almost 30 years, the nonprofit has held a summer fan drive to provide fans for needy households.

At the fire station, Sophia wrangled the fans, which were almost as big as her, into a van headed to a Family Eldercare warehouse. But why go without birthday presents?

“Because people need fans for summer, and sometimes people don’t have air conditioners,” Sophia said, noting that she still got a few presents for her birthday.

This year isn’t the first time Sophia has gone without birthday presents to help those in need. Last year, she collected food donations, and maybe, she said, for her next birthday she’ll do something even bigger.

“I want to get fans and food to give the people. Or maybe I’ll do, I was thinking about doing a clothes drive because sometimes people can’t afford clothes,” she said.

Family Eldercare’s fan drive runs through August, said Brittany Baize, Family Eldercare’s director of development.

“We know how hot Texas summers are,” she said.

Central Texas withers under extreme heat every summer, causing dozens of cases of heat-related illness, such as heatstroke or dehydration. For instance, Austin-Travis County Emergency Medical Services medics responded to as many 19 people with heat-related illnesses over the Memorial Day weekend.

Young children and older adults are especially vulnerable to heat-related illness, health officials said.

Fans can be dropped off at any fire station in Travis and Williamson counties, Baize said, including some stations in Hays County.

Last summer, the organization distributed 6,500 fans, she said, affecting 9,000 families. This year, Family Eldercare is hoping to send out 7,000 fans, she said, noting Sophia’s contribution to the drive.

“We have amazing stuff like this every year, but a 6-year-old? That’s pretty cool. That’s pretty special,” Baize said.



Reader Comments ...


Next Up in Local

‘Whole lotta women’ changing the face of the Texas Democratic Party
‘Whole lotta women’ changing the face of the Texas Democratic Party

Kim Olson strode to the stage of the Democratic State Convention on Friday to Kelly Clarkson’s “Whole Lotta Woman.” “Let me just repeat those lyrics, a bad-ass woman with class and self-confidence,” Olson said. “I run for office because I’m confident I’m going to win.” “Whole lotta women&rdquo...
UPDATE: Texas 130 near U.S. 79 reopened after firefighters battle grass fire
UPDATE: Texas 130 near U.S. 79 reopened after firefighters battle grass fire

5:00 p.m. update: Williamson County officials say all lanes of Texas 130 near U.S. 79 have reopened after being closed previously for a grass fire. Authorities say there is still smoke over the road and have asked drivers to remain careful and to drive 20 mph under the speed limit as firefighters work in the area. Earlier: A fast-moving...
In Rio Grande Valley, a life-altering limbo as asylum process shifts
In Rio Grande Valley, a life-altering limbo as asylum process shifts

In shelters in Mexico, in detention facilities in the United States and in consultations with attorneys, they wait in uncertainty. Lorena, 31, left Honduras with her husband and four children in mid-April, when gangs started killing children attending local schools and skimming the money she earned as a laundress. “Every day you hear that they...
Vinnie Paul was co-founder, drummer of Texas metal band Pantera
Vinnie Paul was co-founder, drummer of Texas metal band Pantera

Vinnie Paul, co-founder and drummer of the Arlington-based metal band Pantera, has died at 54. Pantera’s official Facebook page posted a statement early Saturday announcing his death. The label of Hellyeah, his most recent group, confirmed the death but neither statement mentioned Paul’s cause of death. His real name was Vincent Paul Abbott...
BAD BREAD: H-E-B pulls some bread after finding ‘unfavorable aroma’
BAD BREAD: H-E-B pulls some bread after finding ‘unfavorable aroma’

H-E-B is voluntarily pulling some of its bread products off its shelves after discovering an unfavorable aroma, the company said in a statement. The store has pulled all H-E-B and Hill Country Fare bread products, including hamburger and hot dog buns, that have a best buy date between June 26 and July 2. The company said it was concerned about the...
More Stories