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Originally published: 2013-10-29 13:50:13
Last modified: 2013-10-30 15:48:10

WeCAN seeks donors for fuel assistance program

WeCAN's Warm Hearts Warm Homes campaign is seeking donations to help provide heating fuel for low-income community members in need.

WeCAN, which stands for Watauga Crisis Assistance Network, works to help people stay in their homes by offsetting energy bills, heating bills and evictions. Through partnerships with local energy companies, WeCAN provides each client 100 gallons of fuel at an average cost of $420.

Anyone in a low-income home is eligible to request the assistance, which is available starting Friday.

Warm Hearts Warm Homes runs solely on donations from the community and is able to give out fuel only as donations are available. The program has no overhead or administration costs.

"We depend entirely on the generosity of local churches and members of the community to keep people not only warm but in their homes and out of homelessness," said Graham Doege, the WeCAN service coordinator.

An estimated 26 percent of Watauga County residents are living in poverty, and another estimated 20 percent are unable to earn a living wage, according to WeCAN. In 2012, WeCAN had to turn away 75 homes in need of heating assistance, meaning the campaign was about $31,500 short of meeting the community's needs.

This year, the goal is to raise $135,000 to meet the needs of every Watauga County home that seeks assistance. The program will continue through March 2014 if contributions are available.

Clients must make fuel requests by visiting the Hospitality House between 10 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday and meeting with Doege. When families receive fuel assistance, WeCAN sends the client information to the energy company for delivery as quickly as possible, and WeCAN pays the company directly.

Anyone interested in donating can give online or send a check to the Hospitality House, made out to WeCAN, at P.O. Box 309, Boone, NC 28607.

To give online, visit http://www.hosphouse.org and click on "Make a Gift." Then select "Give to WeCAN."

For further information, contact Todd Carter at (828)264-1237 ext. 107 or (todd@hosphouse.org)