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TAMARAC (CBSMiami) – A retired National Guard veteran, who has been living in the sweltering South Florida heat without any air conditioning for months received a wonderful gift Friday, a brand new air-conditioning unit which arrived wrapped in a big red bow.

This much-needed gift of cool air was given to Arnold Merl as part of “Operation Appliance Aid,” a new initiative to provide appliances and home systems to Broward County military families by Cross Country Home Services.

The Merl family has been without A/C since December and without the money to buy one, Friday’s delivery was quite a relief.

“You look like a nice guy so I don’t think you’ve been to hell but that’s what it felt like, just plain hot and humid, extremely uncomfortable,” explained Arnie about what it has been like living in his home without A/C.

Arnie is a veteran of the New York National Guard. He’s disabled and lives with his wife and two adult children.

When Cross Country Home Services, a home warranty company, found out about his living situation, they stepped up and helped out as part of its Labor Day Appliance Aid Program. The program was launched on July 4th in partnership with the United Way of Broward County.

“It’s specifically designed to recognize and honor our military veterans and their families for their contributions to our country,” explained Sandra Finn of Cross Country Home Services. “We donate large home systems and appliances like washing machines or whatever to those in need.”

Monar Air Conditioning of Coral Springs is installing the new A/C unit for free along with Williamson Electric. All of the companies work with the United Way, doing their part to help others.

“It’s time for businesses to step up and help our military members and our Veteran’s in the community,” said Nancy Vaniman of the United Way.

You can be sure that Merl’s will sleep well from now on while appreciating the cool gift from caring strangers.

“I think it’s very nice and very beautiful,” said Arnie.

Cross Country Home Services, headquartered in Sunrise, plans to continue making donations around major military holidays throughout the year.


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