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Toledo, Ohio & Lake Erie

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Facebook shout out nets “cool” donation for area couple

Like many of us, Mark Whitaker heard the heat advisories and the TV reminders to check on the ailing and elderly during summer’s seemingly endless heat wave.

He didn’t need the reminder – he had made it a mental note to check in periodically with an elderly friend who lives in Sandusky.

“It was the very end of June and the temperatures were at 95 and going up,” said Whitaker, a Genoa High School grad, currently living in Marblehead. “I had spoken with my mom who said she was concerned because the man was having some health issues and was on dialysis.”

When Whitaker got him on the phone, the gentleman reported he was on the mend and feeling better.  “I asked him how his air conditioning was holding up in the extreme heat,” Whitaker said. “When he told me he didn’t have one, I was floored.”

Whitaker, who wasn’t working at the time, decided to reach out to his Facebook friends, asking them to help him help the couple by donating $5 or $10 or a used air conditioner.

“Immediately, I got a message from Jim Gray, offering not only to donate, but to buy the couple the air conditioning,” Whitaker said.

Whitaker and Gray, owner of Gray Services LLC, were classmates and football teammates at GHS, and “friends” on Facebook, but they hadn’t seen each other in many years.

“I thought his offer was incredible,” Whitaker said. “He said he’d go to Menards, pick one out and pay for it. As simple as that.

“When I called my friends and told them someone – a stranger – offered to buy them an air conditioner, they were shocked and overjoyed,” Whitaker said.  

Arrangements were made for the air conditioner to be picked up at the Sandusky Menards, and on July 4, Whitaker installed the unit at the couple’s house.

“When I arrived to put the air conditioner in, it was 103 degrees outside and it had to be 110 degrees in the house,” he said. “They were making the best of it – they had some fans going and she had ice packs on her feet.

“My shirt was soaked with sweat and my 5-year-old grandson, whom I had taken along with me kept saying, ‘Grandpa, let’s get out of here,’” Whitaker said. “I can’t imagine how the couple was tolerating the heat.

“I knew my friends were generous, but I never expected this,” Whitaker said. “Though I’m sure he’d disagree, I think Jim Gray is a hero.

“This experience was also a good example of how we can use Facebook and other social media as a real resource for positive things,” he said.

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Christmas spending

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