The ability to stay warm when the mercury falls is something most Crossroads residents take for granted, but according to officials with the Big Spring Salvation Army, there are many within the community who struggle when the weather turns cold.
Bessie Flores, social worker for the local Salvation Army, said the weather — from the heat of summer to the freezing winters — poses a very real problem for many low-income residents, a problem that can turn deadly.
“Most people don't think anything of adjusting their thermostat. Whether it's a bit too cold or warm, you just give it a bump and you're ready to go,” Flores said. “However, there are many low-income residents and families in the Howard County and Big Spring area who don't have that luxury.
“In the summer, they have to fight back the heat with fans, and, in the winter, they use space heaters and anything else they can find to keep their homes warm enough to live in. It's not something most of us want to think about, but it happens everyday.”
Flores said the Salvation Army — which holds fan drives during the summer — is currently holding a heater and blanket drive to gather space heaters and other items area low-income residents and families can use to warm their homes and stave off the frigid temperatures this winter.
“We seem to go from sweltering heat to freezing cold in the blink of an eye here in West Texas,” Flores said. “Many of these families can barely put food on their table. There's just no way they can afford something like a space heater.”
Flores said donations can be made in the form of new or used heaters — although they do need to be in good working order — or monetary donations so the local charity can purchase the heaters and distribute them.
“Each heater costs an average of $45,” Flores said. “So, as you can imagine, they go pretty fast, especially when the weather turns cold.”
Flores said the heaters provided by the annual drive not only help keep area residents warm, but also serve a second, very important purpose.
“When the temperature gets below freezing, people will do whatever they have to do to keep warm. It's not simply a matter of staying comfortable, it's a matter of staying alive,” she said. “Unfortunately, that sometimes leads people to very risky situations, such as using charcoal grills indoors or other heat sources without the proper ventilation.
“The carbon monoxide released by those heat sources can very easily kill a person, or even an entire family. It can cause a house fire, as well, and then you have a family who already had very little left with nothing at all. Each of the heaters we provide will help people and families stay warm, but it can also do so much more. In essence, it could help save lives and property.”
For more information on the heater drive, contact Flores at 267-8239.