United Way of North Central Massachusetts Launches Heat Assistance Fund to Help Local Residents Stay Warm this Winter

Gifts to fund to be doubled by United Way and the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts

In response to rising home heating costs this winter, the United Way of North Central Massachusetts (UWNCM) has launched a special fund to help local residents stay warm. The “Keep North Central Warm: Heat Assistance Fund” will provide relief for families and individuals throughout the North Central Massachusetts region.

Gifts to the fund will be matched up to $50,000 by UWNCM and the Community Foundation of North Central Massachusetts, and every dollar will go directly to recipients. Funds will be distributed through local UWNCM partner agencies throughout the winter.

As costs rise for fuels including oil, gas, and electricity, the U.S. Energy Information Administration predicts that home heating costs across the United States could be as much as 28% higher this winter than last. In North Central Massachusetts, increases could be much higher—up to 40% more for homes heated with oil and 50% more for homes heated with natural gas.

Local non-profit Making Opportunity Count (MOC) estimates that twice as many people in North Central Massachusetts will need heating assistance this winter than last, noting that they receive a call for heating help every 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Communities expected to be hardest hit by the heating crisis include Athol, Fitchburg, Gardner, and Leominster.

Fitchburg Mayor Stephen L. DiNatale praises the fund as an inspiring community effort, saying, “This initiative demonstrates, once again, the rock solid working relationship that exists between UWNCM and the people of Fitchburg.”

UWNMC President Kory Eng says, “We understand that an increasing number of local residents will struggle to afford the high cost of heat. This fund will help to ensure that no one in our community goes cold this winter.”

Gifts to the Heat Assistance Fund can be made at uwncm.org/donate/give-warmth/, or by mailing a check to United Way of North Central MA with “Heat Fund” in the Memo line to United Way, 649 John Fitch Hwy. Fitchburg MA 01420.