How You Can Help Pay the Heating Bills for a Family in Need

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The first week of 2018 brought a record-breaking cold snap to parts of the U.S. While some families tough out the weather from the comfort of their heated homes, others aren’t so fortunate. Each winter, many low-income households have to choose between keeping the heat on and buying groceries. This problem affects a range of people, but senior citizens and people living with disabilities are especially vulnerable this time of year. Thankfully, there are programs out there helping families stay warm.

For residents of Minnesota, there’s HeatShare, an emergency utility assistance service from the Salvation Army. The state sees some of the harshest winters in the country, with temperatures often plummeting below zero. The Salvation Army offers funds to pay for natural gas, oil, propane, and electricity to people who need it through their Minnesota operating centers.

“The program has provided more than $40 million worth of assistance to over 150,000 households since 1982,” the program page reads. “Annually, about 4700 households receive an average of $370 to keep their homes warm.”

About 40,000 households ask for help covering their heating bills each year, which is more than the program’s budget can handle. You can donate your own money to the cause directly through the Salvation Army’s website.

The Salvation Army isn’t the only organization helping people endure the cold. Sponsored by the Citizens Energy Corporation, Joe-4-Oil offers free heating oil in 16 states, including Maine, Alaska, Virginia, and Wisconsin. The program works with local fuel assistance agencies and heating oil providers to make deliveries of 100 gallons of oil per season directly to the homes of those who need it. You can assist the program by donating to the Citizens Programs Corporation through PayPal.

Looking for another way to make the winter months a little easier for families who are struggling? Here are some suggestions of items to donate.