Do you remember last winter?
I might have a hard time remembering what I did last weekend and what I wore yesterday, but I do remember the bitter cold winter! I remember Facebook friends trying to outdo one another by posting pictures of their vehicles’ digital temperature displays. One morning when my own auto display registered a bone-chilling -14 degrees, I snapped and posted a picture for all of my friends in warmer climates to enjoy!
Truth be told, I don’t mind Ohio winters. By the grace of God, I am able to pay my gas bill each month, and keep my home at a comfortable 70 degrees, even on the harshest winter night. When I have to shovel the walk or dig my car out of a mountain of snow in the driveway, I can instantly warm up simply by stepping inside my home.
But not everyone has an escape from the cold.
Many of the families Catholic Charities serves struggle to keep their homes warm in the winter. The loss of a job, an unexpected medical expense, or a necessary car repair can send a family into a financial crisis and cause a utility bill (or two) to go unpaid.
To assist the increasing number of low-income families struggling with utility bills in the cold winter months, Catholic Charities initiated the “Keep the Kids Warm” campaign in 2008. The purpose of this special effort is to raise funds to provide utility assistance to working poor families who do not qualify for government assistance; families waiting for PIPP (Percentage of Income Payment Plan) Plus to authorize assistance; and families whose HEAP (Home Energy Assistance Program) benefits have been exhausted.
The families who typically call Catholic Charities for assistance with a utility bill have no other resources and are faced with a shut-off notice, or have already experienced a shut-off. Some families are just going through a particularly difficult month and need a little assistance to help them meet their monthly expenses.
The “Keep the Kids Warm” Campaign will begin on January 9, 2017. However, Catholic Charities will continue to accept donations for “Keep the Kids Warm” throughout the entire month of February.
Catholic parishes of the Diocese of Youngstown and others of good will throughout the communities we serve have raised nearly $356,000 and impacted the lives of over 53,000 people in the eight years since “Keep the Kids Warm” began. We are hopeful that our 2017 Campaign will be another successful year for this very important cause.