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Heightened Demand for Heating Assistance

Bitterly cold temperatures this winter have created heightened demand for the Salvation Army heating assistance program. Donors are being asked to help contribute to the "Good Neighbor Energy Fund."

Editor's Note: The following information was provided on behalf of the Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund.

The Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund is appealing to state residents to consider a donation to the Fund's 2012-'13 “Give the Gift of Warmth” campaign. The fund’s administrator, The Salvation Army, is seeing a heightened “urgency of need” due to the recent bitter cold temperatures, an economy that has been slow to recover and the relatively high costs of living. At the same time, the fund has taken in fewer dollars than at this point last year.

The twenty-eighth annual campaign is a cooperative effort between the state's energy companies, the general public and The Salvation Army to provide energy assistance to those Massachusetts households who, because of temporary financial difficulty, cannot meet a month's energy expense and are not eligible for state or federal energy assistance funds. The Good Neighbor campaign's 2012-'13 goal is to raise $650,000 and help more than 2,000 households.

“The colder temperatures we’re experiencing as we enter the dead of winter, in combination with the slowly recovering economy and high costs of living, are generating an increase in the number of inquiries by those in need of energy assistance,” said Major David Kelly of The Salvation Army.  “We appeal to the giving spirit of all our neighbors in the state and ask that you consider enclosing a donation of any amount with the green envelopes found in your utility bills.”

The Fund is often the last resort for families who have not qualified for federal and state assistance programs. To qualify for assistance from the Fund, an applicant's gross household income must fall between 60 and 80 percent of the state’s median income levels. For example, a household size of 2 would need to have a total gross yearly income of between $40,893 and $54,524 to qualify. A household of 4 would need to have a yearly income of between $60,137 and $80,182 to qualify, etc. This year's Fund disbursement is $350 per eligible household per heating season.

“Twenty-five utilities in the Commonwealth, including Western Massachusetts Electric Company, support the Fund through various matching and giving programs,” stated Kate Agin, Chairperson of the Fund and Community Outreach Representative at WMECO.  “But the generosity of all our energy customers is the key to keeping our neighbors in need warm this year.”

Massachusetts residents who wish to support the Fund can “Give the Gift of Warmth” by using the mint-colored Good Neighbor Energy Fund donation envelope found as an insert in monthly energy bills or through the 'add a dollar' program some energy companies offer which allows customers to contribute on their monthly bill payment by one dollar or more. 

Anyone can also donate with a credit card online by visiting www.magoodneighbor.org and checking the appropriate box or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Or, donors can simply mail a check payable to “The Good Neighbor Energy Fund” and send it to The Salvation Army, 25 Shawmut Road, Canton, Massachusetts, 02021-1408. Participating energy companies support their respective customers’ generosity through various giving programs.

For more information on the Fund and how to apply, visit your local Salvation Army Service Center or call (800) 262-1320 if you live in area code 413, or (800) 334-3047 if you live in area codes 508, 617, 781 or 978. 

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