DALLAS (CBSDFW.COM) – The Dallas County Commissioners are embracing a new fund designed to provide air conditioners for the needy to make sure nobody has to fight the heat without help.

The heat relief plan from four local philanthropies will provide money to buy 500 air conditioners next summer.   The idea struck a chord with Dallas County Judge Clay Jenkins, who offered a donation of his own during Tuesday’s Commissioners Court meeting.  “People are dying, literally every day people are dying because of this heat or heat-related illnesses.”   Other commissioner echoed similar entreaties.

Dallas County Health and Human Services has some units already available for people without air conditioning and would work closely with the new fund.   The project was coordinated through commissioner Elba Garcia, who was on hand today when county employees delivered an air conditioner to a needy resident.  “The house was hot, and she was so thankful;  a senior citizen who is raising a granddaughter by herself,” Garcia told CBS 11.  “These are the kinds of projects that actually make a difference in peoples’ lives.”

The very young and very old are most at risk right now,  according to county Medical Safety Director Dr. Paul Pepe.  He cautions older citizens frequently run dehydration risks because of medications.  “Clearly if you go see an elderly person who’s not thinking clearly and they’re in a warm environment and they look dehydrated to you, it’s pretty straightforward they probably have some problems.”

Heat relief is everyone’s concern. While money for the project will be coordinated through the county, county officials promise donations will NOT be used anywhere else in the county’s budget, although if the need gets larger this summer DHHS will be allowed borrow from current donations to meet any crisis this year.

People interested in helping with the donations can call (214) 819-2101 or they can go to www.dallasfoundation.org.

Anyone without an air conditioner and with an urgent need of one today can call the Dallas County Health & Human Services department at (214) 819-6001.