KINGSTON — The 19th season of “Keep the Heat On” kicked off on Nov. 28 with a significant donation to the diocesan fuel assistance program.
Father Jared Costanza, pastor of Christ the King Church, presented Bishop Richard G. Henning with a check for $25,000, representing donations made by parishioners annually that are used to support various programs that promote good works across the diocese.
In accepting the donation check, presented at the start of a large confirmation class gathering in the parish hall, Bishop Henning explained to the students how “Keep the Heat On,” which was begun by Bishop Thomas J. Tobin after he came to the Diocese of Providence in 2005, helps Rhode Islanders who need some financial assistance if they find themselves in need when they can’t afford to pay their heating bills.
“We use the donations to assist those folks who have nowhere else to turn,” Bishop Henning said, noting how people in need will often turn to the Church for help.
The bishop said that the parish is one of the most fervent supporters of the “Keep the Heat On.”
“Please express my gratitude to your parents and families as well. It’s a very kind and generous gift. It will make a big difference for a lot of people.”
Father Costanza said that the Christ the King parishioners are very generous as a parish family.
“You come to church and watch so many people who are supportive, including your own families, including yourselves who sacrifice and give to the church. One of the roles of the Church, according to Jesus, is to take care of our least and last brothers and sisters in the community around us. So, this check represents the sacrificial generosity of your own families who donate to our parish,” he said.
Jim Jahnz, secretary of Catholic Charities and Social Ministry, said helping one’s neighbor is one of the great things we do as a church.
He said that generous donations from the faithful all across Rhode Island have brought in more than $4 million over the history of the program, which has helped more than 17,200 households so far.
Jahnz said that this past season was the busiest ever experienced, and the previous the fourth busiest.
“This program is one of the great things that we do as a church,” Jahnz said. “So many times throughout the years where we’ve visited people’s homes and we know what it’s like to see wind whipping through and one of our elderly parishioners wrapped up in blankets who’s really, really cold. Or a mom, two kids, no heat and nowhere to turn.”
Jahnz also noted how vital Bishop Tobin’s influence on “Keep the Heat On” has been.
“His strong support has made the program a ‘go to’ program for those with nowhere else to turn for help for years . All of the thanks in the world goes his way.”
Bishop Henning spoke of how the program is one of the legacies of Bishop Tobin’s episcopacy.
“The program was Bishop Tobin’s idea, it was his vision, and it’s a good vision and it feels great to see it continuing because it’s been so effective,” he said.
“Bishop Tobin himself is a man of intelligence and compassion and it shows in this program that was so important to him, and I look forward to it growing and continuing long beyond me.”
Jahnz said that for those who are seeking assistance or would like to contribute to “Keep the Heat On” are asked to visit www.heatri.com.