Living Columns & Blogs

What’s winter like for many low-income residents? Take the Centre County Fuel Bank challenge

Want to know what winter is like for many of the low-income clients of the Centre County Fuel Bank? Take this three-day challenge:

Day 1: Turn your heat down 15 degrees. Then imagine: You have only one week of heating fuel left. You thought you could wait until you got your income tax refund to buy more, but bitter cold weather required more fuel than expected. You call the assistance office for help, but your hourly wage income means you make too much money to qualify. You have $42 in your checking account and go to bed worried.

Day 2: Turn your heat down 10 more degrees. You sleep poorly because of how cold your home is. The schools are closed because of the blizzard so you will need to stay home with the kids and lose a day’s income. That night, you lie awake trying to figure out how you can scrape together $350 to get fuel before you run out.

Day 3: Turn off your heat. Let your faucets drip so your pipes do not freeze. Despite sleeping in a hat and socks, you wake up bone-cold. The schools are closed today. You and the kids hunker down in one room with your only space heater. You turn on your oven and open the door for a little extra warmth. You hang towels over doorways and windows to keep the cold out. When you check your fuel, you discover you ran out last night.

Now envision that someone tells you about the Centre County Fuel Bank at Interfaith Human Services. You attend a Fuel Bank class and learn cheap and easy strategies to make your home warmer. A few days later, a truck pulls up with an emergency fuel delivery. Now turn your thermostat back up. How does it feel to be warm again?

The Centre County Fuel Bank delivers relief and support along with heating fuel to families all over Centre County every winter. We operate out of Interfaith Human Services but include many agencies and volunteers working together to provide heat — and hope. Learn more about the Centre County Fuel Bank at

Viki Stumbers is the Centre County Fuel Bank coordinator.