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Action News viewers come to aid of robbed deaf student

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Updated: 11/05/2013 11:44 pm
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Action News viewers have stepped up to help a deaf woman in need.

Art student Elizabeth Melaugh's hearing aids were stolen from her when she was robbed at gunpoint while walking home on the Westside two weeks ago.

Action News was the first to show you a sketch of the man Melaugh drew just after what little hearing she has left was taken. She distributed fliers with the sketch to local stores in a desperate plea to help identify him and return her new hearing aids that she could not afford to replace.

"I feel like this story made a huge difference," she said, the day after our story first ran Monday night.

Emails and phone calls flooded the station Tuesday, from strangers like Mark Moore, who has been struggling with hearing loss since his work on aircraft in the Air Force.

"My first thought was, 'by gosh, I've got a hearing aid sitting in the drawer so she can use i't."

Moore wanted to help Melaugh continue to succeed at work and school.

"I've never met her, and I don't need to. I'm just doing what anybody else would do."

Hearing specialist Jerry Howard of U.S. Hearing Centers in Arlington also offered Melaugh two new hearing aids free of charge.

"She has been through so much. We wanted to make sure she could continue on with her life and not have to go without, because it's hard enough."

The generosity of viewers is not what Melaugh ever expected when she first spoke to Action News on Monday.

"They wanted to give me the gift of hearing! I was amazed. I was shocked. I was about to cry!"

But now she's too busy smiling, and with the continued help of Action News viewers, she believes that man will be caught.

"We need to be better people and coming together on something like this has been amazing. It's been proof of that and it's given me so much hope. Thank you all!"

Melaugh spoke with Jacksonville Sheriff's Office detectives Tuesday and is meeting with them in the coming days to try and identify the man responsible.

Early Tuesday morning, Melaugh accepted assistance from Beltone of Northeast Florida for a new pair of high-tech hearing aids, free of charge, for which she'll be fitted on Monday.

She's asking other viewers who reached out to help her to consider donating their products and services to Florida charities that assist young people with hearing services. Those agencies, selected by Melaugh, include Sertoma Speech and Hearing Foundation of Florida and the Children's Hearing Help Fund

This charity accepts donations for gently used hearing aids so families can receive hearing aids (or even cochlear implants) at little to no cost.

This charity accepts monetary donations to help those with mild to profound hearing loss to get the instruments they need.

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