THERE are lots of ways to help people in the community who are struggling. One of the best is by contributing to the Dollar Energy Fund. The Dollar Energy Fund is coordinated by a nonprofit organization that works with utility companies to help people on hard times pay their utility bills.
The best part is that it is funded by private contributions that are matched by the participating utilities, so any monetary gift you give is immediately doubled. One hundred percent of all customer donations go to help people in need.
The fund began taking applications last week for utility customers who need help.
To qualify, people have to earn below 150 percent of the federal poverty level and have received a termination notice or already have had their utility turned off.
Customers also have to be making sincere efforts to pay their bills, so it helps truly struggling families, not deadbeats avoiding payment.
"We get a lot of families with medical debt," Rachel Coffman, the fund's Appalachian program manager, told the Daily Mail's Andrea Lannom. "A lot have been laid off and have never asked for funding before."
Each qualifying household can apply once a year per utility between Oct. 1 and Sept. 30. The maximum grant amount is $500.
Participating utilities are Appalachian Power, Dominion Hope, Equitable Gas, First Energy units Mon Power and Potomac Edison, Mountaineer Gas, and West Virginia American Water.
The organization has helped more than 21,000 West Virginians since it began operations in the state in 2008, following a startup grant from The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation.
Those who wish may donate to the Dollar Energy Fund through their monthly utility bill or make direct donations at www.dollarenergyfund.org. Or send a check to Box 3979, Charleston, WV 25339.
To review: A nonprofit works with profit-oriented utility companies and involves the community to gather resources and help people in need without government bureaucrats and no tax dollars. Now that's a radical new idea!