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The gift of de-bugging

Bed bugs torment thousands of New Yorkers, but some people are hit worse than others: those who cannot afford to get rid of them.

An elderly Hungarian immigrant who doesn’t speak English. A frantic Bronx mom with three kids who can’t sleep at night due to the biting.

Bed bugs torment thousands of New Yorkers, but some people are hit worse than others: those who cannot afford to get rid of them.

“You feel bad for these people,” said Peter Scala, who owns Long Island-based Parkway Exterminating. Referring to the Hungarian man on the Upper East Side: “He definitely had bed bugs and he was trying to take care of it himself. He just didn’t have any resources to combat this problem.”

Last year, Scala and his team provided free bed bug removal and mattress encasements to that man, a service that normally would have cost over $500. And again this holiday season, he will join 25 exterminators nationwide to give free bed bug removal services to those in need.

Last year, the exterminators helped single mothers, group homes and shelters — and even a US vet that just came back from Afghanistan.

“Bed bugs are not a class issue; they have nothing to do with poverty or filth, and everyone is prone to getting bed bugs,” said Calvin Allen of BedBug Central, which organized the charity. “But we typically see them collecting in low-income households and facilities because they don’t have the means to treat them effectively.”

The bed bug removal will be done Dec. 4 and Dec. 11 this year, from New York to Washington state.

“This is not just people who noticed a few bedbugs,” said Allen. “We try to find people are dealing with bed bugs for over a year now or longer. This is going to people who really can’t afford the treatment. It’s very easy to reach a high price tag with bed bugs.”

 
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