The Wichita chapter of the Red Cross has set a record for the number of free fans given away — and July hasn't even ended yet. Through last week, the agency had distributed 652 fans, far above totals from previous years.
"This has been the busiest summer we've had," said Laure Kendall, manager of family services for the Red Cross.
Last year's total for the entire season was 537, Red Cross spokesman James Williams said.
The previous record was 586 during the summer of 2006. But this year has topped 650 with five weeks remaining in the distribution period.
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"With the economy being what it is, people are looking for ways to cut back and save money," Kendall said.
Some of those who have come for fans have lost their jobs, she said. Others are simply trying to stretch their dollars.
The high number of fans given away in 2006 could be blamed on a hot summer that had 16 days of 100-plus temperatures — including one stretch in mid-July that saw temperatures hit 105, 108, 108, 109 and 109.
This year's chart-topper comes during a season that has only seen four 100-degree days thus far.
But there has been a steady string of humid days with tepid winds and unusually warm nights. In fact, this June was one of the warmest in history for Wichita, according to the National Weather Service.
The average temperature of 80.7 was the seventh highest on record.
The Red Cross distributes fans every Thursday. Since the distributions began on June 3, Kendall said, the agency has run out on all but two Thursdays.
People who receive the fans are "incredibly appreciative," she said. "People just really see the need for it and appreciate the fact that it's available to them."