PRESQUE ISLE, Maine — A prediction that residents in Aroostook County would reach out to help their own this winter has proved true, as the United Way of Aroostook County’s Keep the County Warm program is thriving thanks to support from residents.
Last November, the board of directors of the UWA sought to help out this winter by instituting the program to provide funding for 30,000 gallons of heating oil for Aroostook County families.
The program is looking to raise $105,000 to make available to organizations that offer emergency heating assistance in the region. Joining in the campaign effort are the Aroostook County Action Program, the Aroostook Area Agency on Aging and Helping Hands of Aroostook.
Thus far, the initiative has raised $35,000, Claudia Stevens, executive director of the UWA, said Monday.
“It is coming along very well,” she said. “We have already started distributing the money.”
Stevens said that this year, the amount of funding for the federal Low-Income Heating Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, has increased over last year.
The LIHEAP program provides money to low-income homeowners and renters to help pay for heating costs.
“That has made more people eligible for the program,” said Stevens, noting that LIHEAP funding is distributed by the Aroostook County Action Program. “We are now able to help ACAP with meeting as many of the needs in the area as possible.”
The UWA has reached out to businesses, organizations and individuals to secure the necessary funding.
“We have had a real mix of individuals, businesses and organizations who have stepped up to the plate and donated money to our program,” said Stevens. “People recognize that this is a real need in what could be a dangerous winter. We will continue to raise money throughout the heating season.”