497 Area Volunteers Help Area Needy During Bitter Winter: 10th Annual Hardee’s Rise and Shine For Heat Fundraiser
This has been the most financially challenging winter since the inception of Heat-Up St. Louis, 11 years ago. In most parts of the St. Louis region, where the all-volunteer charity serves, the public cupboards are almost empty, in terms of donations. Thousands of area seniors, disabled and poor households with children are struggling to stay safe and warm this winter. Many of the area residents are in desperate need of obtaining utility assistance in an effort to keep their services from being disconnected and many are trying to get their services restored. Being without a heating source could become a health and safety issue, including use of unsafe methods of heating homes.
During the 10th Annual Hardee’s Rise and Shine for Heat-Up benefit, on Friday, February 11, there will be a record-breaking 497 volunteers serving as celebrity hosts in more than 60 area Missouri and Illinois area Hardee’s restaurants, during breakfast. They will be positioned (wearing special aprons) in the dining room, drive-thru and by the menu board of each Hardee’s unit, requesting extra tax-deductible donations. Last year, the charity received in a matter of a few hours $75,000 with an additional $10,000 from employees from GMAC Insurance.
The fast-food chain donates its Sausage and Egg Biscuit product, at a special price of $1.00, and 100% of the proceeds will go to Heat-Up St. Louis and the funds will stay in the respective counties where collected. Hardee’s will also provide special canister collections for the general public to drop off donations in any amount during the entire weekend of February 12 thru 13. Larger tax-deductible donations may be given on-line at the secured website at www.heatupstlouis.org, or by making a check payable to Heat-Up St. Louis, Inc., c/o UMB Bank, P.O. Box 868, St. Louis, MO 63188.
Area media will also host a series of live-roadblocks from various Hardees’ locations with various drop-bys of Heat-Up St. Louis board members and other prominent civic, business and political leaders.
Heat-Up St. Louis, the all-volunteer regional utility assistance and public education charity, celebrates its 11th anniversary this year. During the current severe winter weather, Heat-Up St. Louis received an average of 150 calls per day from people seeking help with their heating bills.
During January, the independent grass-roots charity actually assisted a record 4,000 qualified people. Through its efforts, Heat-Up and some of its15 partnering MO/ILL agencies have aided more than 8,500 with utility restoration or help with the avoidance of shut-offs since November of 2010. By the middle of March, those numbers of people in need are expected to double, potentially hitting 15,000, due to the constant bone-chilly cold weather.
“These are dangerous and extremely tough times, attempting to meet the awesome needs of literally thousands of needy households within our region is mind-boggling,” said Reverend Earl E. Nance, Jr., longtime board member and Heat-Up St. Louis’ chair emeritus. “We need to save lives, we need to keep people warm, and we need to help hundreds, who are making daunting decisions between heating their homes, eating, paying their rent, and buying their prescription drugs.”
Some non-media celebrity hosts participating in the February 11 fundraiser including 60 volunteers from the St. Louis Rams, including Rampage and cheerleaders, MO. State Senator Robin Wright Jones, MO Lt. Governor Peter Kinder, (general campaign chair); St. Louis Mayor Francis G. Slay,(honorary board chair); St. Louis County Executive Charlie Dooley (vice chair); Joe Bommarito, vice president, Fire Chiefs Association of Greater St. Louis; AFLAC, Arch Rival Roller Girls, Cardinals’ Fred Bird, St. Louis Fire Chief Dennis Jenkerson; HUSTL board president, Lance LeComb of MSD, St. Louis County Police Chief Tim Fitch, Citi’s Melanie DiLeo, chairwoman of Heat-Up St. Louis; Aldermanic President Lewis Reed, Collector of Revenue Greg F.X. Daly, Dr. James Knight, Rev. Earl E. Nance, Jr., chair emeritus and area local Mayors, fire and law enforcement officials, and a few state and federal officials pending.
“Until you visit some of these needy homes, you have no idea of the bitter cold, the emotional trauma, and the uncertainty that many of our neediest neighbors face,” said Melanie DiLeo.
Since its inception, Heat-Up St. Louis has impacted the lives of more than 225,000 people through public education, heating grants, and referrals through the resource help hotline at 314-241-7668, and its Check On Your Neighbor On-Line project at www.heatupstlouis.org.
Heat-Up St. Louis officials warn that winter months have the highest incidents of home and apartment fires, often due to use of unsafe heating method in homes. Officials also urge the public to avoid stealing electric and natural gas, because it can literally blow-up in their faces — killing people, and destroying homes and apartments within the neighborhood, etc.
“It’s imperative that we never stop offering people alternatives to using space heaters as their primary heating sources,” said Lance LeComb, board president of Heat-Up’s board of directors. “Unsafe space heaters are the primary causes of house fires.”
Potential clients who wish to qualify for energy assistance are required to provide proof of income and a photo ID, etc. Heat-Up St. Louis offers help to qualified seniors, disabled, and low-income people (based on income and health issues) in the City of St. Louis and 17 nearby Missouri and Illinois counties. Heat-Up St. Louis works with people who have been disconnected (or are in danger of becoming disconnected) from their utility services. In the City, heating grants are limited to $350; in other areas of the region, grants are limited to $250, with emergency grants upward to $250. People can only obtain Heat-Up supplement utility funds once in a fiscal year. Those needy help should call the Resource Automated Hotline at 314-241-7668, or log onto www.heatupstlouis.org.
Heat-Up St. Louis representatives also stressed the importance that all Missouri residents take full advantage of the Cold Weather Rule, which prohibits shut-offs of utility service when the temperature is forecasted to drop below freezing. Residents who realize they may have problems paying their utility bills should take the first step of notifying the utility company. The Missouri Cold Weather Rule also requires utilities to notify clients about possible financial help for utility bills, prohibits disconnection of registered low-income elderly or disabled customers who make a minimum payment, and allows customers to budget their payments over 12 months. Similar arrangements may exist in Illinois. This winter 2011, there is a new temporary natural gas equipment repair service, to see who qualifies and more details can be obtained through www.heatupstlouis.org.