LOCK HAVEN - The One-Gallon Challenge issued by the local ministerium resulted in donations totaling $10,965. The money has been used to help needy families heat their homes this winter.
As of Monday, all of the money has been given out, and any future requests for help will have to wait and see if more donations come in.
Rev. Bruce Wallace said he is confident the community will continue to come through and rise to the challenge, with each person donating the cost of one gallon of heating oil.
He handles the donations as treasurer of the ministerium, formally named the Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches. The first contribution was banked Oct. 27, he said, and the last disbursement was made Monday. A total of 36 households have been helped so far this winter, he said.
"Everybody has been very generous this year," he said. "We actually exceeded last year by about $1,600."
Each year has been better than the previous, he noted. The first year, donations totaled $7,342, and last year, a total of $9,366 was received.
At the same time, the costs of heating fuel and utilities have risen steadily.
The fact that the program has been able to help 36 families so far this winter is a good indication of success, Rev. Wallace said. Last year, 33 families were helped, and 27 received funding in the program's first year.
The pastor predicts that despite the groundhog's forecast of an early
spring and the mild temperatures yesterday, there will still be a few months when local families will be hard-pressed to pay for heat.
St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church plans to make an additional donation, Rev. Wallace said, and he has hopes that other congregations will make a second push for contributions.
"We are completely out of money right now with all of our funds," he reported.
The SCCACC helped four additional households with undesignated funds, he said, but "all of that is spent now."
One-Gallon Challenge contributions are used for heating help only, he said, and they can be used to help specific families only once per winter.
When he receives a request for help, he takes the family's information and finds out if they have applied for LIHEAP (the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). He double-checks with that program before releasing One-Gallon Challenge funds, he said, partly to verify that the request is valid but also to find out if the family might not be eligible for more federal help.
Wallace said he is concerned that Pres. Obama's 2012 budget proposes severe cuts in LIHEAP.
Such cuts would make it be more important than ever to answer the One-Gallon Challenge.
The challenge is to donate roughly $3.50 per person in your household to help families in a financial bind. If you haven't done so yet this winter, or even if you have, now is a good time to step up and contribute.
Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation should do so through a local church, Rev. Wallace said. Otherwise contributions may be mailed or dropped off to him at East Main Street United Methodist Church, 507 E. Main St., Lock Haven, Pa. 17745.
- By WENDY STIVER