On Jan. 2, the Centre County Fuel Bank opened its reserve to families in the county who were facing a heating emergency. The primary heating product distributed through the fuel bank is home heating oil. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration, since January 2010, the price of home heating oil has increased by 28 percent. Individuals on fixed incomes such as Social Security have received an increase of 6.8 percent over the same time period.
The Centre County Fuel Bank, managed by Interfaith Human Services, is a cooperative effort of county agencies, organizations and vendors who seek to provide emergency heating assistance to eligible low-income families in Centre County. From Jan. 2-31, the fuel bank provided $27,300 in home heating products, which assisted 143 people.
The fuel bank opens each year on the first business day of January and closes on the last business day of March. The amount of assistance available to each eligible family is significantly influenced by the level of donations received, number of requests, the price of the heating product and the state’s budgeted funds allocated to the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Currently, the fuel bank requires that at least one person from a requesting household attends a home energy efficiency class once every two years. These classes are offered through a partnership between IHS and Pennsylvania Interfaith Power and Light. Classes continue to be offered, and anyone who is interested in learning about home energy conservation, even if he or she is not eligible to receive fuel bank assistance, is welcome to attend.
Classes are scheduled for:
• noon Feb. 19, St. Andrew’s Episcopal Church, 208 W. Foster Ave., State College;
• 5:30 p.m. March 4, CenClear Child Services, 1633 Philipsburg Bigler Highway, Philipsburg.
There are many families who, due to budget cuts and changes in eligibility criteria, find themselves without assistance. IHS’ goal is to find additional funding for the fuel bank and our other services so additional assistance help can be provided to families in need.
“Centre Sings” is one way IHS tries to meet those financial needs. One hundred percent of the net income from the “Centre Sings” vocal competition will be directed toward the programs and services we provide. Interested vocalists can apply now to compete, and auditions begin in April. Applications, rules and more information are at www.ihs-centrecounty.org/centre-sings.
With the help of “Centre Sings,” we hope that next year those gaps will be filled and the fuel bank will be able to meet the needs of more families who must face the cold of winter with limited financial resources.
Ruth Donahue is executive director of Interfaith Human Services Inc.