The air conditioner in Cynthia King's living-room window was humming steadily yesterday afternoon, cutting through the oppressive heat that has been blanketing the city.

"That's one of the best sounds I've heard in a long time," said King, a single mother of 10. "Tonight is going to be an excellent night."

King moved to Philadelphia a month ago to escape the gangs in her old Brooklyn neighborhood, settling in a Kensington rowhouse she found on Craigslist.

Over the weekend, when the heat wave descended on the area, King, like thousands of other city residents, sweated through the long days and humid nights without air-conditioning.

The Inquirer profiled her family for Sunday's issue. In the article, King said she wanted to get a hose so her children could play in the water.

A man was at her door in the morning, leaving a hose on her steps, along with a copy of the article and a simple note: "Have fun, Fritz."

"Never seen him before," King said, marveling at the generosity. "That's how I found out the story was in the paper."

But that was hardly the end of the community's largesse.

Later that day, a woman who had clipped the article and glanced at it repeatedly during church felt compelled to help. She appeared at King's door with the first of four air conditioners now cooling the home.

The woman - King never got a full name - came back later with blankets, sheets, towels, household items.

"She said God touched her heart," King said.

Yesterday, Sister Linda Lukiewski, of nearby Visitation of the Blessed Virgin Mary Roman Catholic Church, brought another donated air conditioner.

And King's landlord, Jeff Koenigsberg, showed up with two new units and a blow-up pool for her children, who range in age from 5 to 19.

"He's very kind," King said. "The children have been in that pool since he filled it with water."

King's story moved a number of area residents to reach out to Sister Linda, who has been helping King's family.

Sister Linda said she had received about 20 phone calls from people looking to help. Others have sent checks and dropped off donated items.

She said the outpouring could help others in the neighborhood.

"I'm not refusing anybody. If they're offering air conditioners, everyone can be Cynthia King," Sister Linda said. "Everyone's out on their stoops. No one has air-conditioning."

One of those who called Sister Linda was Christine Starr of Blue Bell, herself a single mother.

Starr said she ended up discussing King's situation with her 11-year-old son, Chip.

"He said, 'Let's have a fund-raiser for them,' " Starr said. "I grumbled and said, I don't have time for a fund-raiser. And he said, 'What do you mean? We have the rest of our lives to help people.' "

In the end, Sister Linda told Starr to give gift cards for a grocery, which she plans to do.

King said her family fell on hard times after her husband died in 2006, and she decided to move here for her children's sake after gang members started pulling out guns in her East Flatbush neighborhood.

"Just sending them to school was a chore," she said of her children. "You had to send them out in groups."

Her Kensington home, on East Clearfield Street, is a couple of blocks away from her sister's house, but she never imagined how much Philadelphia would welcome her.

"I've been in New York all my life, and then one month in Philadelphia has been so peaceful," she said. "When I see my children content and happy, I'm peaceful."

Contact staff writer Troy Graham at 856-779-3893 or tgraham@phillynews.com.