Project GRACE is asking the Scarborough community to come together to raise $10,000 that will be used by locals who need help paying their home heating bills this winter.

As an extra incentive, local businessman Eddie Woodin is offering a matching grant, as he has done every year since the Rally to Keep Our Neighbors Warm event got started four years ago.

The rally will be held on Saturday, Feb. 6, at the Oak Hill fire station and will include a variety of family-friendly events, from a special story time with library director Nancy Crowell to a bake sale and a snowflake cookie contest.

Those who wish to help out, but can’t attend the rally, can make a donation online at www.fuelrally.weebly.com or send a check to Project GRACE at P.O. Box 6846, Scarborough, Maine, 04070-6846.

In talking about the fuel rally, Steffi Cox, Project GRACE’s executive director, said the event is “another example of what a wonderful and caring community the town of Scarborough is; we won’t leave our neighbors out in the cold.”

This winter, Cox said, her nonprofit is expecting to spend about $25,000 to provide home heating assistance to local families. She said the fuel fund currently has about $5,000, which “is quite a ways from what we expect we’ll need this year.”

The community can make a difference by “giving generously to the fuel fund and by standing up to be counted at the fuel rally,” she added.

Woodin said he’s happy to offer a matching grant for the fuel fund because it’s “turning caring into action. I challenge myself and hope to inspire others to be a doer (and) make a contribution.”

While $10,000 is the stated fundraising goal, Cox said, we would “love to reach $15,000 if we could. (And) if we get to that goal Eddie will give an extra $2,000 to the fuel fund.”

To encourage giving, Cox said, “with lower (fuel) prices, those of us with a little extra to spare could really make a difference for someone who is still struggling to get by.”

While Cox recognized that heating fuel is cheaper this winter than it has been in prior years, Woodin also wished to remind the community that, “The needs are still significant, and having our neighbors shivering in the cold is unacceptable.”

Cox agreed and said that some in the community, particularly some elderly residents rely on only a small, fixed income, which makes it difficult to pay an expensive heating bill, as well as buying food and other necessities.

She added, “There are little or no safety nets for working families, and some are just getting by on low wages, living paycheck to paycheck. And we can all understand that there are circumstances that can throw an otherwise stable and hardworking family into temporary financial crisis.”

Cox said requests for home heating help come in as early as November and so far Project GRACE has helped “a couple dozen households, each with a 100 gallons of oil, K-1, or propane.”

But, she said, “Now that the cold and snow are well and truly here, the calls are picking up. We expect to help about 65 to 75 households this season. It was the same last year – a slow start, but a big finish.”

Cox also said, “Most people who call us are uncomfortable asking for help. They would rather go it alone, but are in a circumstance where they realize they need the help (and) by the time they call some are almost out of fuel. Thankfully, in our community, we don’t leave our neighbors out in the cold. When it really counts, we show up; we lend a hand; we rally together.”

A Closer Look

Project GRACE’s fourth annual heating fuel assistance rally will take place on Saturday, Feb. 6, from 10 a.m.-noon at the Oak Hill fire station in Scarborough. See www.fuelrally.weebly.com for more information.

On Feb. 6, Project GRACE in Scarborough will hold its annual fuel fund rally. The proceeds go to local families who need help paying their home heating bills.


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