What is Project Cool Breeze?
Founded: May 1999 in Charleston, S.C.
In 1999, Charleston City Councilman Wendell Gilliard started a program to provide new fans and air conditioners to elderly citizens 60 years or older in the tri-county area. He solicited the help of a reporter at WCSC-TV Channel 5 in Charleston, S.C., Rameca Vincent (Leary), to bring this dream to fruition. Through this collaboration, they were able to educate the public about the dangers of heat-related deaths. In that year alone, there were numerous deaths, and the main objective was to prevent more from occurring. Over the years, Gilliard, Vincent Leary, and a host of others have worked countless hours with this initiative. In 2012, President Barack Obama presented Project Cool Breeze with a National Community Service Award. Coca-Cola and Lowe’s have also been major sponsors, providing products and services to elderly people in need. With the increased number of seniors on fixed incomes, it is imperative for the community and local businesses to support Project Cool Breeze. Donations can be made at any time during the year, but the greatest need is from May to September. During this time, air conditioners and fans are distributed to elderly persons in need. Although Project Cool Breeze has its roots in Charleston, Gilliard and Vincent Leary hope this life-saving initiative will spread to other states, too.