Fuel for Warmth doubles fuel ‘gifts’

Published May 9 2017

Fuel for Warmth a registered charitable organization serving all areas of the Haliburton Highlands reports that the winter of 2016/17 was a period of high demand for its services.

Fuel for Warmth has been in service to the highlands for nine years. Joanne Barnes originated this service in our region and with the support of dedicated volunteers the charity has led the way for others to provide similar programs.

The primary demand for assistance this winter was for fuel oil. Fifty-nine per cent asked for help with their fuel oil costs and 31 per cent requested firewood support. There were smaller amounts for propane at six per cent and wood pellets at four per cent. Fuel for Warmth also referred 13 families to the Low Income Energy Assistance Program for Hydro expenses.

Key to the efforts of Fuel for Warmth this year was the very successful fundraising from the 2016 Highlands Christmas Shindig and funds from the Canoe FM radio bingo. These plus the generous support of donors throughout the Highlands enabled Fuel for Warmth to double the amount of the fuel “gifts” to clients. This was extremely important when you consider that many residences require $100 or more per week to heat in the winter.

We continue to employ a fiduciary process that examines all requests through local suppliers and then on confirmation of the need make payments on our client’s behalf. We can report that in virtually all instances the requests are valid and very necessary. As a charitable organization we take our responsibility to our donors and our clients very seriously.

This year Fuel for Warmth reported that 66 per cent of the requests came from Minden Hills 16 per cent from Kinmount 12 per cent from Dysart et al four per cent from Algonquin Highlands and two per cent from Highlands East. Adults represented the largest proportion of people helped at 53 per cent. The organization reported 22 per cent were children and a further 25 per cent were seniors in our county.

Thanks to the generosity of the Scotty Morrison family and the Marty Udvari family Fuel for Warmth purchased a professional grade wood splitter which the volunteers used to good effect. The process of receiving wood contributions (logs) cutting and splitting is an ongoing part of the volunteer efforts of the organization. This ensures that come the colder season there is a good supply of dry wood available for those in need.

It is a fact of life that costs for families and individuals continue to climb in our county. The cost of accommodation taxes food clothing and other necessities put significant pressure on those with fixed incomes or who are the working poor. In the highlands many of those employed are holding down more than one job to try and make ends meet but unfortunately funds run out before the end of the month. And that is even more pronounced in the winter season. Fuel for Warmth is able to step in and support them during the most devastating season of the year when tourism and outside employment is at a seasonal low. As Isabella Daley said in an article in the OnPolicy report (2016)

“Being working poor is thinking $12 an hour is a great job.” As we all know that doesn’t take you very far.

We know how dire the need is when we consider the demand on our food banks and our school food programs. The good work that local organizations do in these areas is a close companion to the efforts of Fuel for Warmth. It is our intention to continue to close the gap keep adults and children warm while they deal with all their other challenges.

The response back from our clients is heartwarming and at the same time heartbreaking. The calls and notes of appreciation are the fuel for our volunteers. When it’s appropriate we are able to make contact with other services in order to try and assist them in other areas of their lives.

2016/17 was an extremely busy period. We track our requests by households while noting those in the residence being served. Yes the number of individuals is in the hundreds but of greater significance is the fact that the number of households requesting help has not diminished. What are the final numbers? Well we won’t know that for a short while yet. We are still filling requests as the season continues to bring cold damp days.

We thank everyone in the Haliburton Highlands who supported Fuel for Warmth with donations both in cash or gifts-in-kind. We also recognize the many volunteers who made it possible for us to “save the day” for our clients. As always the generosity and compassion of those who live here is a source of inspiration for us all.

Submitted by Fuel for Warmth