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Florida deputies surprise woman with new refrigerator after 911 call

Cheryl Nanartonis faced a crisis when her refrigerator broke down, so deputies stepped in to help.
Credit: Martin County Sheriff's Office
Cheryl Nanartonis stands with two Martin County in front of her refrigerator. The deputies helped replace the refrigerator after it broke down.

JENSEN BEACH, Fla. — A Martin County woman got a nice surprise after her refrigerator broke down with food inside.

Cheryl Nanartonis called 911, fearing her food would go bad. She told the dispatcher she couldn't afford a new refrigerator and asked for help. That's when deputies showed up to her Jensen Beach home and found a way to keep her food fresh.

The three deputies, identified as Deputy Marcum, Deputy Elliot and Sgt. Flynn, first reminded Cheryl to call 911 only in an emergency. But they decided they couldn't leave her empty-handed. They contacted the Jensen Beach Goodwill and arranged for a "gently used" refrigerator to be delivered to the home, free of charge.

The Martin County Sheriff's Office posted pictures of the new refrigerator on its Facebook page, along with their thanks to the deputies and Goodwill for getting Cheryl back on track in a moment of need. The post received thousands of reactions and hundreds of positive comments within two days.

What can you do if you can't afford a refrigerator?

Unfortunately, Cheryl's case is not isolated. Many people find themselves unable to afford a refrigerator to store fresh food, especially in the tough economic times brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. So there are a few places you can turn if you find yourself in need.

  • Goodwill: Goodwill stores, such as the one that donated Cheryl's refrigerator, will often offer free or low-cost appliances. Not all locations will have them, though, so be sure to call or check online before visiting a store.
  • Charities or churches: Various nonprofit organizations, such as the Salvation Army, will have donated refrigerators ready to deliver. Some churches might also have a collection ready to donate to those who need them.
  • Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program: The program known as LIHEAP helps people who are below the poverty line cover their energy costs. But they can also provide refrigerators and other appliances in some cases. You'll need to apply to see if you qualify.
  • Craigslist: The popular classified ad website offers all kinds of items, often at low costs. But be sure the person from whom you're buying is reputable. And many law enforcement agencies offer designated "safe zones" to complete online transactions. Consider using one of those for your safety.
  • Do not call 911: Cheryl got her refrigerator after making a 911 call. But again, the Martin County Sheriff's Office stresses that 911 should only be used in emergencies. If you feel the need to contact law enforcement, call your local non-emergency line.

RELATED: ‘In her honor’: Plant City woman makes special mask after losing her mother to COVID-19

RELATED: $600 unemployment benefit to end this week, could have major impact on Florida

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