The myth that the unseasonably warm winter weather means there is a lesser need for energy assistance, is just a myth, according to Heat-Up St. Louis Chair, Melanie DiLeo. “During warm weather the local utilities can disconnect thousands of needy customers who fail to make arrangements for payments on their high delinquent heating bills,” says DiLeo. “This adds an additional burden on the need for more public and private funds. There are already thousands of needy people in line because energy may not be affordable for them.”
Heat-Up St. Louis officials are experiencing an increase in its resource hotline inquiries — from 50 calls a day to about 250. At the same time, the all-volunteer energy assistance and public education charity has experienced donor’s fatigue in the last several months.
Heat-Up St. Louis attributes some of the donor’s fatigue to many area middle-class families, who are also experiencing financial challenges with their own natural gas bills, which have jumped beyond thirty-five percent. Heat-Up officials believe that this winter needy households are making tough choices between heating, eating, and paying their rent, prescription drug and medical bills, etc.
On Friday, February 17, during the breakfast hours of 6:00 a.m. until 10:30 a.m., area Hardee’s restaurants will sell at a special price for a $1.00, it’s Sausage and Egg Biscuit Sandwich. 100% of the proceeds will go to Heat-Up St. Louis, who in turn will partner with social service agencies in about 16 Missouri and Illinois counties, including the City of St. Louis to qualify area needy families, the elderly and disabled people. The fundraiser is entitled, “Hardee’s Rise and Shine for Heat.”
During that morning time period about 400 area civic, business, political and media volunteers will serve as celebrity greeters. They will ask the general public and Hardee’s customers for additional check and cash tax-deductible donations. In addition, this year, Hardee’s will expand its in-restaurant canister collections through lunch, ending at 2:00 p.m.
This year’s theme of “Have a Heart…Heat A Home,” is dedicated to the founder of the charity, Gentry W. Trotter. Trotter previously announced that he would be retiring from the 46-member, all-volunteer board at the end of June, after serving for five years. He is currently the president of the board.
100% of all tax-deductible donations go towards servicing the needy, as all administrative expenses are underwritten by various members of the board of directors, including Trotter.
For those members of the public who are not able to make it to a Hardee’s, they can use their credit card on line to contribute at www.heatupstlouis.org. Larger tax-deductible donations may be sent to Heat-Up St. Louis, c/o UMB Bank, P.O. Box 868, St. Louis, MO 63188. The resource help hotline is 314-241-7668.
“It’s critical that the public and Hardee’s customers support this effort,” says Steve Lemley, general campaign chair and vice president of field marketing for Hardee’s, “Being without heat during these severe cold snaps can negatively impact one’s property and health.”
Also participating in this year’s fundraiser are some members of the Greater St. Louis Fire Chiefs Association. During the winter, house and apartment fires are at their highest incidents, due to the use of unsafe methods of heating homes. Heat-Up officials believe the contributing factor to high fire incidents and even deaths is the use of space heaters as a primary method of heating homes. The St. Louis area has already experienced fatalities and the destruction of property this winter.
“The winter can also play havoc on the health of the elderly and the disabled, notwithstanding the emotional impact of a disconnection notice,” says Dr. James Knight, vice chair of the board, and co-chair of the not-for-profit group’s health and safety committee.” “It’s imperative that we reach out and help those less fortunate.” Dr. James Knight is also on the medical staff of Forest Park Hospital.