Lawrence's relatively mild winter may be detracting from a campaign to raise money to help low-income residents with their heating bills, a volunteer with the group said Friday.
Bonnie Wells, public relations coordinator with Warm Hearts, a Douglas County group that helps families and individuals pay heating costs, said people may not be as inspired to donate because of the relatively mild weather the city has been experiencing. Wells said she and other Warm Hearts volunteers are only guessing about why campaign giving has been slow.
"But it seems people become aware of the plight of people who are cold when it's very cold out," Wells said, stressing that "cold weather is going to come."
Wells hopes local residents can look beyond the mild temperatures and think about the inevitable cold that will come this winter.
Warren Rhodes, treasurer of Warm Hearts, said donations to the campaign aren't coming in as steadily as they have in years past.
Rhodes said Friday that $47,332 had been raised for the 1991-92 campaign.
"We're running a little slower than last year," Rhodes said.
He said donations are particularly down in rural areas. Rhodes and other campaign organizers also think economic worries may have an impact on giving.
Warm Hearts hopes to raise $70,000. About $59,000 was raised during the 1990-91 campaign, and 1,054 people were assisted last winter.
Although Warm Hearts accepts donations throughout the year, the group's major campaign ends Wednesday. A total of 21 individuals or families had applied for help as of Friday morning.
People who request assistance must have a shut-off notice from electric or gas service providers and must have made an effort to make a payment during the period for which they are requesting assistance. Warm Hearts makes payments directly to utility companies. Douglas County residents may apply for Warm Hearts assistance at various social service agencies in Lawrence.
Donations to Warm Hearts may be sent to P.O. Box 1555, Lawrence 66044.
Meanwhile, Capt. George Windham of the local Salvation Army said the campaign for that agency also is running behind schedule.
He said Friday afternoon that $104,054 had been raised to help the Salvation Army. The kettle campaign brought in $44,374, and the mail appeal brought in $59,680.
The campaign is about $21,000 short of the $125,000 goal.
Windham said donations still would be welcome.
"We're still working on it," he said. "We'd still appreciate people sending in their mail-in donations."