The Rams Boot Out Old Man Winter Heat-Up Fundraiser At The Dome, November 23, and Volunteers Pay Tributeto Fallen Firefighter Who Volunteered For Its Cause
While oil and gasoline prices have dramatically dropped, area St. Louis residents brace for an extraordinarily high increase in their natural gas home heating bills. While the economy has worsened for many area middle-class households, seniors, the disabled and low-income families with small children are really struggling with making choices between heating, eating and paying their rent.
On Sunday, November 23, before the St. Louis Rams and Chicago Bears game, (9:30 a.m. – 12:30 p.m.) about 140 area firefighters and Heat-Up St. Louis civilian volunteers will be stationed at all of the Edward Jones Dome gates, and at tailgate parties in the downtown areas collecting special donations from Rams fans. “The Rams, Boot Out Old Man Winter Heat-Up St. Louis,” is an annual fundraiser, where civilian volunteers sporting yellow caps with canisters donated by CITI, will be alongside firefighters with collection boots. This year the Rams Cheerleaders are serving as honorary chairwomen of the fundraiser.
Also about 40 employees from Hoffman Brothers Heating and AmerenUE have volunteered to join area civic and business leaders in helping Heat-Up St. Louis. Heat-Up St. Louis is a not-for-profit, non-utility, all-volunteer regional charity, providing education and energy assistance in about 17 Missouri and Illinois counties, including the City of St. Louis.
On the day of the special Rams collection, Heat-Up St. Louis is paying tribute to slain St. Louis firefighter Leonard Riggins, who had previously served alongside other firefighters, as a volunteer for the annual Rams Boot Out Old Man Winter fundraiser. The volunteers will wear black-arm bands donated by Leon Uniform Company of Brentwood in honor of Mr. Riggins and firefighters who have died in the line-of-duty.
“Firefighter Riggins not only demonstrated a spirit of heroism,” said Melanie Dileo, board chairwoman of Heat-Up St. Louis, Inc. “He gave so much of his time back to community efforts like ours, we want to show our deep appreciation.”
Heat-Up St. Louis officials said that winter time has the highest incidents of house and apartment fires. People often use unsafe methods of heating their homes, including use of various supplemental heating — space heaters — as primary heating sources.
This year, Heat-Up St. Louis officials are also encouraging sports fans, who will not attend the Rams game, and the general public in 17 Missouri and Illinois counties, including the City of St. Louis to make a tax-deductible secured donation at www.heatupstlouis.org, or drop by any bank teller, at any UMB Bank Center. Larger donations may be sent to Heat-Up St. Louis, c/o UMB Bank, P.O. Box 868, St. Louis, MO 63188. For energy assistance information, call 314-241-7668.
100% of all public donations to Heat-Up St. Louis are used for servicing the needy, as the 48 member, all-volunteer board underwrites all operating expenses.
“This is our first public fundraiser for the winter and is really important for needy households that truly can’t afford to pay their high utility bills,” said Kevin McGowan, president of the board of directors for Heat-Up St. Louis. “High utility bills often place an emotional and economic crunch on the elderly and disabled people, who are on fixed incomes.”
The funds from the Rams fundraiser will help those area qualified seniors, the disabled and needy households with small children, who need their utilities reconnected. Heat-Up St. Louis has become the regional safety net, after all utility and federal/state funds have been exhausted. In some cases Heat-Up St. Louis has been the only primary funding source for re-connecting households with a one-time, grant level that may go as high as $600 per household.
Since October, the charity has distributed about $70,000 and raised about $55,000 from its first fall gala, St. Louis Sisters Heating Up St Louis Benefit, among other small donations through UMB Bank.
The Charity is counting on funds from Rams fans to help refill its financial coffers. Not being able to pay high or delinquent heating bills could force some area low-income families into bankruptcy or homelessness or force some into using unsafe methods of heating their homes, or stealing utilities.
Those who are caught stealing utilities maybe subject to prosecution and will have to pay 100% of their outstanding balance before being re-connected. Attempting to steal utilities can endanger lives and property. Heat-Up St. Louis will not pledge for anyone caught stealing energy.
Last winter, Heat-Up St. Louis received more than $900,000 in various tax-deductible donations, and since its inception about eight years ago; it has impacted the lives of more than 100,000 persons.