Sunday January 20, 2013

More than 1,850 Massachusetts families in need of warmth last winter received energy assistance thanks to the Good Neighbor Energy Fund. Now, with the arrival of winter temperatures, more Massachusetts families in temporary crisis due to a loss of a job or unexpected medical expenses need our help paying their energy bills.

The Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund, administered by the Salvation Army, is often the last resort for families who are in need of this energy assistance and who have not qualified for federal and state assistance programs. Unfortunately, due to the uncertain economy, the relatively high cost of energy and the falling temperatures, our local service center is seeing a dramatic rise in the number of requests for energy assistance over the last few weeks. In fact, we expect the urgency of need to continue to escalate through the winter and into the spring.

With this in mind, those in need of energy assistance should visit their local Salvation Army Service Center or call (800) 262-1320, which is the phone number for the 413 area code.

To help us satisfy the more than 5,000 requests for aid anticipated this winter alone, I appeal to everyone in the Pittsfield area to join their fellow residents in the commonwealth and the sponsoring energy companies to "Give the gift of warmth." Energy customers can donate by using the mint-colored Good Neighbor Energy Fund donation envelopes found as an insert in their monthly energy bills or through the "add a dollar" program some energy companies offer. People can also donate with a credit card by visiting www. magoodneighbor.org or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY for information on sending a check.

On behalf of all of those families in need, I thank you.

DAVID E. KELLY

Canton

Major Kelly is Massachusetts Divisional Commander of the Salvation Army.