With winter comes that other season of the year, heating season. For many, it means buttoning up the house, caulking leaky windows and door frames, and splitting and stacking firewood before the first snow flies. Oil tanks and propane cylinders are topped off. For those who own old, stone-foundation houses, it may even mean stacking a layer of hay bales or insulating board around the foundation to keep the cold and snow out of a dirt-floored cellar. There are countless ways to get ready for the long, cold winter that invariably will arrive.
But what about those without means to do any of these things? We’re talking about those who are worried about paying for groceries and their heating bills. They may not be able to do both. It’s a life and death dilemma faced by many in the region. In fact, many more than one might think.
Which is why we feel it is extremely important to support the local funds that help people in need heat their homes for the winter. There are a variety of local organizations that reach out to those in need during the winter season. The local Lions and Rotary clubs offer assistance. There are food pantries, that won’t help pay for heat, but can help with food so there’s money left over to pay the heating bills. There is Deerfield Valley Community Cares, which provides fuel assistance to local groups in need. There is Southwestern Vermont Community Action, or SEVCA, which helps with weatherization and other consumption-reducing initiatives. There are state-run programs and other groups large and small, all who stand ready to lend a hand to help folks stay warm throughout the cold winter months. A quick Internet search a phone call to the chamber of commerce or a town office are good ways to start the ball rolling and find out who is offering assistance.
For readers of this paper, there are a few things that can be done to lend a hand. One is to contribute. Local aid groups are always looking for contributions, either via cash or in kind. A second is to recognize who might need assistance. Sometimes a neighbor or friend might need some help, but might be too proud to ask for it. Drop a dime and make a call, or stop by for a quick visit. That neighbor’s apprehensions may seem less daunting when someone else shows they care.
The worst thing anyone can do is stand by and do nothing. There are folks who need real help. The time to do that is now, not when there are three feet of snow on the ground.