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story.lead_photo.caption Just in time to try to beat the extreme heat, The Salvation Army picked up about 70 fans Thursday from Westlake Ace Hardware. Randy Miller, Westlake general manager, and Capt. Justin Windell load the items onto the truck where driver Tom Brant stacks them for transport to the Center of Hope for distribution. Photo by Julie Smith / News Tribune.

It's hot — really hot.

So, the annual fan drive conducted by Westlake Ace Hardware and the Salvation Army of Jefferson City couldn't have come at a better time.

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Each year, the partners team up to cool off area people. The hardware store, at 2305 Missouri Blvd., accepts donations and uses its buying power to purchase 22-inch box fans.

This year, the business' customers donated more than $1,000 — enough for 67 fans.

The drive — conducted over 18 days (June 6-23) throughout the Westlake Ace Hardware chain — pulled in more than $78,000. That allowed the hardware stores to provide 5,700 fans for Salvation Army distribution nationwide.

Randy Miller, the Jefferson City store's general manager, said the drive being so successful in the city as it recovered from the effects of flooding and the May 22 tornado was special for him.

"We've got a great group of people who live in the Jeff City area. The public has helped us out and pitches in where it's needed," Miller said.

This summer, people have asked for donations for a lot of worthy causes. It's the hardware store's regular customers who made a difference during this year's drive, he said.

Salvation Army staff picked up the fans Thursday afternoon.

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"As the heat is increasing this week, there's definitely a need," Salvation Army Capt. Justin Windell said. "Especially for people on different ends of the age spectrum."

He said the old and the very young have difficulty regulating their body temperatures during extreme heat.

On top of the fan drive, a company that folks at Westlake Ace Hardware regularly work with donated several cases of bug spray to The Salvation Army. The intent, Windell said, is it be given to disaster victims or people who have to spend long periods of time outside.

Earlier this week, The Salvation Army Center of Hope Shelter & Social Services, 927 Jefferson St., was designated a distribution site for "consumable" items that have been donated for flood and tornado victims.

"We try to double-up on services as much as we can," Windell said. "As people come through, if they're in need, we can help them out that way as well."

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