SUMTER COUNTY, S.C. (WIS) - We all know how hot it gets during a South Carolina summer, and as those temperatures go up living without an AC unit becomes more difficult and unpleasant.
The Clean Slate Reentry Program out of Sumter is working to change that through a project called Operation Summer Salvation.
Started in 2016, the project is organized by Derek Gamble, executive director of Clean Slate Reentry Program, which rehabilitates former criminal offenders, by installing wall air-conditioner units for the elderly and disabled in Sumter, Williamsburg, Lee, Clarendon, and Darlington counties.
“We have a very hot and humid climate here in SC and we’re trying to do this in order to cut down on the heat-related illnesses and deaths,” Gamble said.
The program is also a way to rehabilitate ex-offenders, to aid them into getting jobs and stabilize them back into the community.
“This angle of restorative justice is giving them the opportunity to help back in the communities that they once offended in,” Gamble said.
Markies Collins recently installed an AC unit in a Sumter home. He was released from jail on August 1st, after serving 11 years.
“I’m really just trying to give back to the community that I once was a menace in to try to reshape my image, better myself as a person, and also help others that are in need,” Collins said.
“Reentry is very big, and a very needed aspect of society and we’re just trying to help formally incarcerated people just get back on their feet and be a productive part of society,” Gamble said.
The Delta Kappa Sigma Chapter of the Phi Beta Sigma Fraternity Inc. from Morris College in Sumter donated 21 air conditioners to operation summer salvation, which puts them at 83 units for the year so far.
Operation Summer Salvation hopes to donate 500 ac units to elderly and disabled residents in need.
Lowe's of Sumter has discounted GE air conditioners to a cost of $110 in support of this statewide outreach.
If you’d like to donate, units can be purchased by phone or in-person for pick up. Call 803-469-1419 and mention your purchasing a unit for the Clean Slate Reentry program under the phone number 803-316-9169.