Up until recently, the Miriam Wilson Weems Kennel, run by The Animal Rescue Fund of Mississippi (ARF), was using fans and cooling mats to beat the summer heat. That’s not enough to thwart the rising temps, says ARF Executive Director Elizabeth Jackson. But with a tight budget, buying a new air conditioning unit worth tens of thousands of dollars was not in the foreseeable future.
That’s when Virginia College in Jackson and BancorpSouth came to the rescue.
BancorpSouth had an old air conditioning unit that was salvaged from a re-located branch. In the process of determining how best to dispose of it, vice president Vanda Crowe and mid-Mississippi divisional president Joseph Moss had another idea — give it to the shelter.
The well-used three-ton unit needed a few repairs before it could be donated to ARF, so they handed it over to Virginia College where a class of 40 HVAC-R Technician students returned it to working condition in just four hours — a project that typically takes two days!
“Many of the students are from the same neighborhood where the shelter is located,” says campus president Milton Anderson. “It’s special for them to be able to give back to their community.”
Students refitted and installed the good-as-new unit at the shelter where it is keeping the puppy nursery cool. Their visit to ARF also included the repair of another unit that cools other parts of the building and the removal of brush, weeds and debris from the surrounding area where dogs can play.
Students say that another rewarding part of the project is putting what they’ve learned into practice to help really make a difference.
And what a big difference it will make! Jackson says the new air conditioning unit will improve the lives of the dogs and cats and help the shelter operate more efficiently. Not to mention saving the shelter thousands of dollars that can go to other needs. As a non-profit animal rescue group, ARF relies on contributions to operate, including monetary donations, supply donations and volunteers.
Anderson says that Virginia College is always looking for opportunities like this. In the past, the campus has teamed students to troubleshoot computers, provide cosmetology services, host health clinics and much more to help out the Jackson community, and plan to do more as opportunities become available.