According to 2015 Census data nearly 225,000 Nebraskans, 12.2 percent of the state’s population is living below the poverty line. In many Nebraska communities nearly half of the families with children registered in school qualify for the low income, free and reduced lunch program. On the sunniest of days making ends meet can be a daily stress. As temperatures drop, many households are contemplating the long winter ahead and wondering how they’ll meet all of their family’s needs.
Through the many programs it offers, The Salvation Army gets to know these families and their struggles personally. They sit with the single mother of three who works two jobs and the disabled veteran who has returned to their hometown. And they find ways to give assistance which also offers families hope.
That’s why the Heat Share program has become so important.
“For families stretched to pay all their bills each month, an unexpected car repair or medical bill could put them behind. The Heat Share program, with funds provided by Black Hills Energy and their generous customers, is a vital resource for these families facing a shut off who come to The Salvation Army for assistance,” says Dr. Linda Burkle, divisional social services director for The Salvation Army. “In addition to helping with utility bills, Heat Share may repair heating systems,” said Burkle.
The Heat Share program is largely funded by donations made by Black Hills Energy employees and customers through the Black Hills Cares program. Employees give donations and organize fundraisers across the state with the proceeds going to the energy assistance program.
Black Hills Energy customers can indicate the amount of a one-time or monthly contribution to Black Hills Cares on the return portion of their bill. Donations to Black Hills Cares also can be made through Black Hills Energy’s eBill program, a fast, free and paperless way to view and pay the bill online.
Black Hills Energy matches donations to Black Hills Cares dollar-for-dollar, and forwards the total to assistance agencies in the community. In Nebraska, that means the Salvation Army’s Heat Share program.
The Salvation Army appreciates the program says Burkle, “We are so grateful for this partnership with Black Hills Energy and the resources they provide. Without it, this program would not exist.”
“The future of our communities depends on us having a shared sense of responsibility and knowing we are all in this together. As the natural gas utility partner, we want to be able to give a hand up where we can, and our Black Hills Cares program and Heat Share partnership does that,” states Jeff Sylvester, vice president of Nebraska natural gas operations for Black Hills Energy.
The program is now available to families in all of the communities Black Hills Energy serves across Nebraska.
Press Release Courtesy Black Hills Energy