Santa Claus made an early stop at two North Fort Myers homes this past month. Five months early to be exact.
Ellsworth Heating & Cooling gave away two central air units with installation during its recent Christmas in July air conditioner giveaway.
Gretchen Brown and Wilma Smith had their names picked from numerous other potential winners in this, the 10th annual giveaway.
Both said they were about due for new units, as theirs were about 20 years old and in need of replacement. They also had other big bills.
"Mine was about to give out soon and I was concerned about it," Smith said. "I have a sick cat, I have medical issues and I'm trying to save money. That's one less thing I have to worry about now."
"My air conditioner is older and I just replaced my washer and refrigerator," Brown said. "I'm surprised I won because I don't usually win things."
William Barnes, of Ellsworth Heating & Cooling, said the company changed some of its rules, this year having two winners to allow the company to give more to the community.
The giveaway started out nomination-based, Barnes said. When that proved too cumbersome, it was changed to a random giveaway.
"We started doing this as a way to give back to the community. We had people fill out registrations at the store," Barnes said. "We wanted to do something for those who stay here in the summer when they really need it."
Ellsworth does other charity work, such as doing services for families in need.
The units, an Amana and a Trane, are both four-ton, 13 seer units, and normally cost about $4,000 with installation.
Both winners said they were thrilled to win and happy Ellsworth would provide such a contest.
"I appreciate the offer they made and that I won. I'm so happy," Smith said. "I have a friend who won the contest five years ago and I didn't even know until I told her I won."
"I sure am happy. It was very kind for them to do it," Brown said, who sent the company a thank you card in appreciation. "It's not easy today and it's nice they do this because it helps people."
Brown had her new central air unit installed this week. Smith said she's going to wait a while, as she may move.