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Bedbugs infested her home; thanks to the kindness of strangers, they’re gone

Her bedbugs are gone and Macon woman says, 'I love it'

Clara Hunter of Macon was featured in The Telegraph's Reindeer Gang feature for a problem she had with bedbugs. Generous readers donated to help her find relief.
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Clara Hunter of Macon was featured in The Telegraph's Reindeer Gang feature for a problem she had with bedbugs. Generous readers donated to help her find relief.

The morning the exterminators came, Clara Hunter could only hope.

The bedbugs that had tormented her for more than a year — making sleep all but impossible as her house teemed with a nearly unlivable infestation — might soon be dead.

But she wasn’t sure. She had tried everything to kill them. She’d cleaned her house and doused the place with bug sprays.

Now she was relying on the kindness of strangers.

“I love it,” said Hunter. “Everybody is seeing about everybody.”

She was talking about the people who had read an article about her in The Telegraph last month.

The newspaper piece, part of the annual Reindeer Gang series about locals in need at the holidays, told how, as she put it, “I’m sleeping with the bugs. Every night.”

Someone who works for Peachtree Pest Control in Warner Robins saw Hunter’s story. The company offered Hunter its services. For free.

But first Hunter, who is 75, had to toss out her easy chairs, a couch and her bedding.

The morning the exterminators arrived, there was a pile of furniture beside the road near Hunter’s mailbox along Ninadel Drive at the northeastern edge of Macon’s Unionville neighborhood.

Billy Sheffield, the bug man, parked his pickup beside it.

“We want to help her out,” he said. “You don’t want anybody … to have to live like that.”

Sheffield added, “I told her, ‘Don’t you worry about it, you’re gonna sleep good tonight.’”

His crew used hot steam and a chemical spray to treat Hunter’s house.

The other day, when a Telegraph reporter checked in on her to see how things were going, Hunter said the exterminators had worked for two days to rid the place of bugs.

Since then, she’d been sleeping in a new bed.

Her furniture was being replaced.

As for the bedbugs, she said, “I just hope they don’t come back.”

‘We’ve been blessed’

Other people and families the newspaper profiled for this year’s Reindeer Gang stories included a young woman and her two children who had nowhere to live when the house they were renting burned.

The woman, Whitney Waters, who works at an east Macon Subway sandwich shop, has since been given a three-bedroom apartment — rent free for three months — and Aaron’s, a rental company, is donating furniture.

“We’ve been blessed by a lot of people,” Waters, 26, said the other day.

Loaves and Fishes Ministry of Macon was still receiving checks and other donations for Waters and her kids, who have also received new clothes and bicycles.

Another man the paper profiled, Brian Hill, 45, who has suffered two strokes, still needs a wheelchair-accessible van. So far, his wife said the agency sponsoring him, Disability Connections, has received about $300 in donations.

Joseph Pounds, another person the paper wrote about, needed a new wheelchair ramp and household repairs. Rebuilding Macon, the organization that nominated him for the Reindeer Gang, will soon install a new ramp, fix his kitchen cabinets and renovate his front porch.

The paper also reported on 19-year-old Johnathan Chatman, one of 13 children, who works mowing lawns and raking leaves in east Macon to help his family make ends meet.

He has since been given a new riding lawn mower, a rental shed to store it in and a cellphone so that customers can reach him.

June O’Neal, executive director of the Mentors Project of Bibb County, was also printing business cards for Chatman.

“He’s happy,” she said.

REINDEER GANG REVIEW

The Reindeer Gang is an annual feature that looks to find help for people and families in need at the holidays. Those featured this year were:

  • Johnathan Chatman, a 19-year-old landscaper in east Macon who is helping support a dozen brothers and sisters. To donate to him, call the Mentors Project of Bibb County at 765-8624.
  • Brian Hill, a 45-year-old Fort Valley man, who in the aftermath of two strokes needs a handicap-accessible van. To donate to him, call Disability Connections at 741-1425.
  • Clara Hunter, a 75-year-old Macon woman who needs help ridding her home of bedbugs. To donate to her, call Meals on Wheels of Middle Georgia at 745-9140.
  • Joseph Pounds, 69, of Macon, who decades ago was shot and seriously injured. He needs home repairs and a new wheelchair ramp. To donate to him, call Rebuilding Macon at 744-9808, or mail contributions to 3864 Lake St., Macon, Georgia, 31204; or use the agency’s website at rebuildingmacon.org/donate.
  • Whitney Waters, 26, of Macon, and her children, who recently lost their home in a fire. To donate to them, call Loaves and Fishes at 741-1007, or mail contributions to Loaves and Fishes Ministry of Macon, P.O. Box 825, Macon, Ga., 31202.
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