Thousands of Rhode Islanders have no electricity or heat as the number of households in the state that have lost utility service is at an all-time high.
Record high costs for heating oil and natural gas are predicted for the coming cold winter months. The cost of heating oil has risen by more than 30 percent since last year and the number of utility shut-offs continues to increase as more customers are unable to pay their utility bills.
Assistance is no longer available through a state-sponsored program as the $15 million allotted for the program was diverted by the General Assembly to offset the huge state budget deficit, and federal heating assistance has been reduced due to a lack of full funding.
This situation is quite perilous for families who cannot afford to heat their homes during the cold winter months. We call upon Rhode Island’s many Catholics to support Bishop Thomas J. Tobin’s program to provide heating assistance by contributing generously to the “Keep the Heat On” campaign.
Bishop Tobin announced last week that once again, the Diocese of Providence is offering a program that provides heating assistance for struggling families who have exhausted all other means. “Keep the Heat On” is supported by generous donors and is matched, dollar for dollar, up to $75,000 with a matching grant from the Catholic Charity Fund. Last year, more than 700 individuals and organizations contributed over $119,000 to the campaign to help Rhode Island’s struggling families keep the heat on during the winter months.
The news is not good for many poor and needy families facing a cold winter. Many elderly Rhode Islanders will have to choose between paying for high-priced prescriptions or keeping their heat on to stay warm.
The “Keep the Heat On Campaign” provides an opportunity for Catholics and all people of good will to truly help their neighbors in need.
We begin the prayerful season of Advent as we prepare for the coming of Christ at Christmas. Pope Benedict reminds us that Advent calls “us to commit ourselves to prayer, conversion and good works, to welcome Jesus in our life, to build together with him this spiritual edifice by which each one of us - our families and our communities - is a precious stone.”
We can build this edifice of precious stones by generously contributing to the “Keep the Heat On” campaign.