Despite a relatively mild winter this year, a program that helps low-income people pay their winter heating bills is in need of donations.
``I think people have been holding on to their heating bills hoping they can pay them later,'' said Jim Henry, 1997-98 president of Warm Hearts of Douglas County Inc. ``We've had 40 applications this week, for over $1,000.''
Warm Hearts is an all-volunteer group that formed in December 1982 to help distribute donations to residents whose incomes are at or below poverty levels set by the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.
This year's fund drive began in November with a goal of $75,000.
So far, slightly more than $58,000 has been raised.
``We're still going to need help while the weather is cold,'' Henry said.
Many donations this year have been made in honor of, or in memory of, people who have recently died.
Last year, Warm Hearts processed 425 applications and assisted 1,495 people. The organization paid utility bills of $77,076, an increase of $18,855 from the previous year.
``Even though it hasn't been cold, the needs this year appear to be the same as last year,'' Henry said.
Families wishing to apply for assistance may do so at the Ballard Community Center, Douglas County Senior Services, the East Central Kansas Opportunity Commission, Lawrence Indian Center, Penn House and the Salvation Army.
Tax-deductible donations to Warm Hearts of Douglas County Inc. may be sent to: Warm Hearts, P.O. Box 1555, Lawrence 66044.
-- Mike Dekker's phone message is 832-7187. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.