January 9, 2010 7:50:00 PM
Jason Browne - [email protected]
Columbus Light and Water is hoping to raise some funds for customers who can''t afford to raise their thermostats.
The Share One program has been in place at Columbus Light and Water for the past 10 years to allow customers to help their less-fortunate peers through a monthly or one-time donation added to their bills. But Nancy Guerry, director of Helping Hands, the agency tasked with distributing vouchers for the Share One funds, says the program has fallen off recently.
"We''re just kind of reinvigorating it," Guerry said. "It''s never been dropped. (Donations) just are not always that frequent."
A recent push by CL&W, Helping Hands and the Lowndes County United Way, the parent organization of Helping Hands, spurred approximately 50 CL&W customers to donate to Share One in December. But more donors would mean more assistance.
Despite the 50 new donors, CL&W General Manager Todd Gales says participation in Share One remains low.
"We didn''t have a bunch that participated (prior to December)," he said.
Participation in the program is voluntary, so customers wishing to donate must apply at the CL&W office or on its Web site, www.columbuslw.com, under the "customer information" link. Customers choose how much extra to be billed each month to go into the Share One fund.
In the past, CL&W has issued a quarterly voucher to Helping Hands for the amount contained in the Share One funds. Helping Hands then distributes those vouchers to needy customers.
Guerry explains Share One funds, like all Helping Hands assistance, are aimed at assisting families on a temporary basis. Applicants are required to show evidence of recent hardship, such as being laid off from work or a medical condition. The funds are not available to families already qualified for the state''s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program.
Families wishing to apply for assistance through Helping Hands can call 662-328-8301.