Baby, it’s cold outside.
February definitely has tested the resolve of people who like to brush off cold weather. We might be cavalier about the temperature when the thermometer says it is a frosty 15 degrees but it’s hard to pretend you don’t notice when it is 15 degrees below zero.
It is even harder to ignore when there is no oil in the fuel tank or when you can’t afford to turn on the electric baseboards.
In the Philipsburg-Osceola area, where about half of schoolchildren qualify for free or reduced lunches because of low household income, the added expense of winter can freeze a family to the bone.
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For many, what stands between life-threatening cold in frigid months is Central Pennsylvania Community Action.
The office sits on South Front Street and looks like a white house with a large front porch. Inside, though, the food bank flows into the desk areas where workers help connect people in need to the programs that make all the difference.
While the government administered Low Income Heating Energy Assistance Program is there to help with some utilities, there are others that are handled through the nonprofit doors of Community Action.
The customer assistance program can adjust a monthly bill and work on lowering a past-due balance bit by bit. The Dollar Energy Fund provides thousands of utility grants to families in crisis every year. Weatherization services help low-income households stem their energy needs with insulation and other physical improvements.
The clients served may be disabled or elderly, unemployed or a working mom with young kids. What freezes them all just a little every month is knowing that a warm house on a cold day can be hard to afford. Community Action helps thaw that fear.