By Kim Williams, Vice President of Donor Relations—
EAST CENTRAL INDIANA – Each year, frigid temperatures throughout the Heart of Indiana region produce large utility bills for local residents. Thousands of local families struggle to cover the cost of those bills and face the possibility of utility disconnection and the resulting loss of heat during the coldest months of the year. The Friend to Friend Utility Assistance Fund provides help to struggling local families at risk of losing heat in their homes because they lack resources to afford their utilities.
Heart of Indiana United Way is partnering with other community partners to provide support through the Friend to Friend Utility assistance program. The program, which began in 2001 in Madison County, has helped thousands of residents throughout its existence. This year, efforts and supports are being expanded to the Heart of Indiana’s full 5-county area. Financial support is needed from the community to meet this year’s anticipated need. 100% of donations collected for this fund will help qualified residents in Delaware, Madison, Henry, Randolph and Fayette Counties to reduce their utility bills during the coldest winter months.
“Our weather recently has been bitter cold, and there are many more cold days ahead. The need for utility assistance is great—as it is every year. Many families face the possibility of disconnection,” said Jenni Marsh, president of Heart of Indiana United Way. “We need people and businesses to step up and give to our Friend to Friend program and help families stay warm safely, rather than give them no choice but to turn to unsafe heating sources.”
Families may be protected from having utilities disconnected between December 1 and March 15 by Indiana law. However, residents are still responsible for heating costs that accumulate during that period. On March 15, when temperatures may still be low, at-risk residents could face utility disconnection if they are unable to pay their existing utility bill.
Funds raised for the Friend to Friend Utility Assistance Fund are distributed to several local organizations so they can provide direct assistance to those who need it. Individuals can be connected to available assistance by calling 2-1-1.
Persons wishing to contribute to the fund may direct their donations to the “Friend to Friend Utility Assistance Fund”, c/o Heart of Indiana United Way, P. O. Box 968, Muncie, IN 47308. Online contributions can be made at www.heartofindiana.org/giveheat. Or text GIVEHEAT to 91999 to make a donation by text. All contributions are tax-deductible.
About Heart of Indiana United Way
Heart of Indiana United Way was established in July of 2021 when two organizations, the United Way of Madison County (which also serves Fayette County) and the United Way of Delaware, Henry & Randolph Counties, joined forces to transform and improve more lives in Indiana. The Heart of Indiana United Way looks to improve the quality of life in our five targeted communities by engaging people and organizations to advance education, financial stability, and access to quality health care.