FAIRFIELD — Shirley Williams sat inside her house on Friday morning using gloves, a blanket and a space heater to help keep warm, to no avail.
“I’m like a popsicle in here,” she said.
Williams had seen her heater red-tagged by PG&E on Monday for a carbon monoxide leak, just in time for the season’s biggest cold snap. She didn’t have the money to buy a new one.
In the other room, Hector Gracia-Medrano wore a Santa Claus hat as he worked to install a new heater. Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning of Dixon gave Williams a heater for free.
“I know God is always in the plan, but I didn’t look for that,” Williams said.
The old heater sat out on William’s front lawn. John Stone, sales manager for Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning, looked at it.
“That thing’s got to be at least 40 years old,” Stone said.
So it would appear. Williams, a Louisiana native, moved to the house in a neighborhood near Fairfield High School in about 1974 when her then-husband was transferred to Travis Air Force Base. She still had the same heater.
After the heater was red-tagged, Williams’ house got so cold that she went and stayed with her son in Suisun City at nights. Temperatures during recent nights have fallen to the mid-30s. At 10 a.m. on Friday, it was about 49 degrees outdoors and 57 degrees in William’s home.
Williams’ sister called Dependable Heating & Air Conditioning earlier in the week to get an estimate for a new heater. Stone went to Williams house and gave an estimate of about $2,100, which Williams couldn’t afford.
The company for about 10 years has had what it calls its “Keeping Santa Warm” program. Each year, it gives one free furnace to someone who can’t pay for it.
“We decided we need to give back to the community,” Stone said.
Stone decided that Williams would be the recipient this year of the free furnace.
“You’ve got someone, they have no options, we’re able to take care of a need,” Stone said. “It’s a great thing.”
Williams called Stone “an angel.”
Stone and Gracia-Medrano were Santas for a day, bringing the gift of warmth to a cold house.
Reach Barry Eberling at 427-6929 or firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/beberlingdr.