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Thank you for donating to NEWS CENTER Maine's 2022 Project Heat Telethon to help with heating assistance in Maine

Thank you for your generous donations to NCM's 2022 Project Heat Telethon. With your donations more than 1,100 households will stay warm through the winter months.

MAINE, USA — UPDATE: With your generous donations, $375,310 was raised for NEWS CENTER Maine's 2022 Project Heat Telethon. 2766 donors helped to make this happen. This will help to heat more than 1,100 homes in Maine this winter season.  The total includes donations from viewers, grants and the matching donations of $20,000 from Dead River Company, Project Heat's sponsor. Thank you to all who donated. 

There is still time to donate.

Donors were kind enough to share with The Project Heat Telethon volunteers about why they were donating. Below are a few of those stories.

  • A retired English teacher who never forgot one student's essay about the winter without heat. He was living with his father in a mobile home without electricity. It broke her heart. His story is why she donates. 
  • $100 was donated. The donor and her mom needed help and received it when growing up now she is paying it forward.
  • $10 from a woman who’s benefitted from Project Heat in the past.
  • A volunteer received a donation from an elderly gentleman who said he receives heating assistance but was able to save $25 to donate and because of the matching hour from Dead River Company, he made sure to donate during The Power Hour and have it doubled. 
  • A volunteer’s first call on their shift was a donation of $200. The donor had been listening to the stories on the news and said he and his wife had some extra funds and wanted to help out.

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Each year, thousands of Mainers struggle to heat their homes. Nearly two-thirds of Maine households use fuel oil as their primary energy source for home heating, a larger share than in any other state. The reliance on oil to heat homes is vital in ensuring people can stay warm and in their homes.

On Jan. 20, NEWS CENTER Maine’s Project Heat telethon will raised money to support United Way’s Keep ME Warm fund. Phone lines were  open from 5 a.m. to 8 p.m. With the help of all seven United Ways of Maine and 211 Maine, your donations will be used statewide.

After the onset of the coronavirus pandemic reduced fuel prices dramatically in 2020, the price of heating oil in Maine has rebounded to roughly the same as in 2019. Your contributions are needed now more than ever.

RELATED: 211 call specialists are the front line for heating help

The Keep ME Warm fund was created in 2008. It’s a partnership of the seven United Ways in Maine and 12 Community Action Agencies.

The Keep ME Warm Fund is the only statewide fuel assistance fundraising effort in the state. Funds are distributed to Community Action Programs and United Ways as well as 211. United Way of Southern Maine will collect and distribute funds based on a formula developed by the CAPs and United Ways in Maine. Community Action Programs receive 50% of the funds, United Ways receive 25%, and 211 Maine receives the remaining 25%.

"Every single donation matters, and so whether you've got five dollars to spare or 5,000 to spare, you know exactly where your dollars are going," Liz Cotter Schlax, the president and CEO of the United Way of Southern Maine, said. "They're going to families right here in Maine who need the help right now."

People who can't afford to heat their homes often have to decide between paying for food, heating, housing, or medications. Cotter Schlax said those in need of help shouldn't be too proud to reach out to ask for it. 

"Part of being in community is that we all need help sometimes, and asking for help and getting the help you need enables you to do other things in your life that your community needs you for," she said.

RELATED: Biddeford-area volunteers work to keep neighbors warmer this winter

Data from 211 Maine shows that heating assistance is a major concern for thousands of Mainers each year. Fuel payment and electric payment assistance continue to be top concerns among callers, last year totaling 10,580 requests statewide.

"It's families. It's single parents. It's single people. It's your neighbors. It's people that you would never expect would be reaching out for help," Peter Deschaine, a navigator with the Aroostook County Action Program, said. "Everyone comes from every shape and different way of life."

Deschaine said a major group at high risk of not being able to afford to heat their homes is elderly Mainers living on fixed incomes. He said it's important to remember the need can affect anyone, though.

"There was a family I assisted [where] the dad had a really good paying job. They owned their own home. They looked like the typical, 'Hey, they've got it going,'" Deschaine said. "The dad lost his job due to having to stay home with his children for their close contacts at school, and he didn’t have enough earned time, so it didn’t take long to fall behind quick."

RELATED: Thank you for keeping Mainers warm this winter by donating to NEWS CENTER Maine's 2021 Project Heat Telethon

In 2021, Keep ME Warm raised a total of $466,359 total helping over 2,000 homes with 100 gallons of heating assistance.

If you are in need of heating assistance, please call 2-1-1.