Keep ME Warm fundraising effort launched

Posted Jan. 24, 2012, at 12:12 p.m.

BANGOR, Maine — It’s no secret that winter in Maine is wicked cold and many Mainers struggle to stay warm during tight financial times.

To ease the situation, United Way of Eastern Maine has raised about $14,000 for Keep Maine Families Warm through donations made by Foster’s On The Run, Dysart’s and Foxbrook Variety. The funds will be awarded to families throughout Eastern Maine in need of heating assistance. United Way of Eastern Maine also awarded an additional $30,000 in small grants through its Neighbors Helping Neighbors program focused on heating assistance, weatherization, winterization and warming centers.

In addition, on Jan. 13, the United Ways of Maine, Maine Community Action Agencies and the Governor’s Office announced a collaborative fundraising effort called Keep ME Warm. Gov. Paul LePage, representatives from the 10 United Ways of Maine and the 10 Community Action Programs attended the program launch.

“The Keep ME Warm initiative is launching at a critical time with colder temperatures having arrived,” Lisa Laflin, executive director of the United Way of the Tri-Valley Area and chairwoman of the United Ways of Maine, said. “It is one of many steps toward helping our neighbors stay warm that must be taken. It is no secret that the current economic challenges in Maine and the country are causing many to have to make difficult choices.”

Pat Kosma, CEO of Kennebec Valley Community Action Program and the president of the Maine Community Action Association, said, “The CAP agencies are responsible for taking applications for the Low-Income Heating Assistance Program. More people than ever are facing the prospect of an unheated home. Many seniors and families are struggling due to the poor economy, but LIHEAP funding is only 71 percent of what it was last year and fuel oil prices are much higher.”

The United Ways of Maine will collect and disperse donated funds with the help of the Community Action Programs, which will determine if applicants qualify for federally funded Low Income Heating Assistance and Keep ME Warm funds. Some of the money raised for Keep ME Warm will go to towns and churches that have their own heating assistance programs.

Keep ME Warm has set a goal of helping 1,000 families with 100 gallons fuel each. Online contributions may be made at keepmewarm.org or MaineCommunityAction.org. Local United Ways of Maine and Community Action Agencies also will have links from their websites. Contributions may be made by check and mailed to Keep ME Warm, c/o MCAA, PO Box 200, East Wilton 04234.

Contributions may be designated to a local region. All contributions of any size will be accepted and are tax-deductible.

For information about emergency heating assistance, call 2-1-1.

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