Last week’s frigid temperatures were a reminder of how important it is to have a working furnace and hot water in the wintertime. While most of us gripe about the jump in our electric and gas bills, we aren’t usually concerned that we won’t have the money to pay them. Unfortunately, this isn’t the case in many Hoosier households.
When utility bills skyrocket in the winter, families who are struggling financially and elderly neighbors on fixed incomes often have to choose between paying a bill on time and getting groceries and gas. Or perhaps the choice is between keeping the water from being shut off and purchasing prescription medications. It’s a tough situation, but not one that must be faced alone and without hope.
The Salvation Army’s utility assistance programs help clients on a case-by-case basis to catch up on late bills and avoid shut-off by utility companies. Case managers at local Salvation Army Corps Community Centers do all they can do to help and it often takes just a one-time payment to get a client caught up. In counties where The Salvation Army does not have a physical building, our Service Extension representatives, who often work out of local churches or social service agencies, help to match Salvation Army funds to their neighbors in need.
One of the most frequent reasons why people seek utility assistance is the occurrence of unexpected life events, like an injury or health problem that results in high medical bills. Others have lost their jobs or are under-employed and no longer able to provide for their families. Seniors on fixed incomes are especially susceptible to sudden cost of living increases.
Utility assistance programs may not get the attention that toy drives and food pantries do, but for the thousands of Hoosiers helped every year in Indiana, they are blessings during times of great need. A warm bedroom for a sleeping infant, a hot bath for a grandmother, a working stove for parents feeding their family – these simple things are not taken for granted when one has faced the possibility of losing utility service in the middle of January.
Thank you for helping The Salvation Army keep our neighbors safe and warm this winter. May the blessings you give warm many hearts and homes this year!