Help for Seniors

Published 12:00 am Friday, June 10, 2011

Panola sheriff’s deputy Earl Burdette spends time with 108-year-old Lula Wallace after she received an air conditioner in her home south of Batesville. The central air in the home had gone out, leaving the elderly resident without air conditioning. The Panolian photo by Emily Williams

Help in the heat for Panola Co. seniors

By Emily Williams  and David Howell

A Panola County deputy sheriff is back on a mission to help seniors beat the heat this summer.

With excitement and tears in his eyes, Earl Burdette was honored to have put the first window unit the home of one of Panola County’s oldest seniors, 108-yearold Lula Wallace.

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

“I was getting a hamburger when I saw Edna Wallace (Lula’s daughter-in-law). She asked me what I was doing for the seniors this year,” said Burdette.

“She said she knew someone who needed help and it was pure fate we ran into each other,” he added.

“I told her the first air-conditioner that comes in, I’ll give her one.”

Burdette visited with the Wallace family as he learned a little history and got a feel of how the one unit cooled the house.

“I’ll be back. I want to give ya’ll another unit,” he told Lula’s daughter, Margaret Cooke.

“Mother lived on a farm and she always helped others. I told her it was now coming back to her for all those she helped when she was able,” said Cooke.

“I believe when you get to the gates of Heaven, you will be asked what you did for the people,” Burdette said to Cooke as he walked back to his patrol truck.

    After providing fans and encouraging churches to offer shelter during extremely hot days in previous summers, Burdette has ramped up his efforts by raising money to purchase almost 40 small window unit air conditioners.

    His goal is to collect 50 air conditioners.

    “You would be  amazed in Panola County, the need is here,” Burdette said.          Burdette said the units are typically installed in a home where one or two rooms can be shut off, giving the seniors a “cool room” in their own home as temps pushed triple digits this week.    

    “We have gone back and checked on them. It may not make your teeth chatter but the air conditioners have made a big difference,” the deputy explained.

    He added that a number of people from across the county have provided  almost $4,500 to purchase the initial 40 window units.

    “A businessman in Batesville is helping by providing the units at cost,” Burdette also reported.

    “I want to thank the people who have donated. They don’t know what their donation has done as far as cooling off the place,” he said.

Monetary donations to pay for electricity and fuel can be made to the Panola County Law Enforcement Relief Fund.

In-kind donations such as air conditioners are logged into a journal which records the donor and the recipient.

    The free air conditioners are available for senior citizens or hospice patients.

    If you need help, Burdette can be reached at 519-1290 or contact the Panola County Sheriff’s Department at 563-6230.

    Requests for a window unit are investigated before the unit is installed.