Operation Fuel hopes to keep families warm this winter

By Colin Rajala - Staff Writer
Windsor - posted Thu., Dec. 6, 2012
Operation Fuel Executive Director Pat Wrice hopes to raise a million dollars this year. Courtesy photo. - Contributed Photo

After a long, hard day of work, walking into a cold, dark house is hardly what anyone looks forward to; unfortunately, this is the harsh reality for some who have difficulty affording their energy bill. Operation Fuel, the nation’s oldest energy assistance program, is looking for individual donors to consider giving whatever they can afford in an effort to help lower-income working families, the elderly, and people with disabilities who need help to stay warm this winter, but are not eligible for government-funded programs.

“The donations are coming in and we’re so grateful,” said Pat Wrice, Operation Fuel executive director. “People are just really struggling. Our goal is to raise a million dollars through our annual appeal so we have enough money to get us through December to the end of March.”

Wrice started working for the organization in 1997. That winter, Operation Fuel served more than 3,000 households, giving out roughly $500,000, enough for about $250 in energy assistance to each home, an adequate amount to fill up their oil tanks. This year, the organization will be giving out up to $500 in grants per household, enough to purchase 100 gallons of oil or more. 

“We have to work twice as hard just to compare to what it was in terms of our ability to help people when I started 15 years ago,” Wrice said. Last year Operation Fuel and its network of 100 fuel banks served more than 6,000 households in the state, providing more than $2.4 million in energy assistance, including $44,480 in fuel grants to 94 Windsor households. “We easily could have given out twice that amount if we had the resource – that is how serious the energy affordability crisis is in Connecticut,” Wrice said.

Operation Fuel has begun to take applications and they advise anyone who needs energy assistance to call 211.  The funds are allocated on need basis and are first-come, first-served. Once the funds are exhausted, the organization has to start another appeal to help those who were missed the first time around.

Donations for Operation Fuel can be sent to Operation Fuel, One Regency Drive, Suite 200, Bloomfield, CT 06002 or made online at www.operationfuel.org.

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