Home heating program runs dry

Nancy MacPhee
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SUMMERSIDE — It took just two days for the $40,000 allocated to the Summerside Salvation Army to help those in need of heating oil to disappear.

Now, the Salvation Army’s Karen Mallett has a list of more than 20 families still in need of oil, a list that continues to grow with each passing day.

Mallett said the money the Salvation Army received from the provincial government could have easily gone the same day that the organization starting taking applications for an emergency 400-litre delivery of oil.

“It could have gone faster but we took the time to look over the applications and to really look at where the need was,” she added. “It did shock me because last year I was told it took 10 days.”

Approximately 80 Prince County families received a 400-litre oil delivery through the program administered locally by the Summerside Salvation Army.

Charlottetown’s Salvation Army had also received money from the provincial government — two thirds of the $121,000 allocated to the program this year — to help those in Queens and Kings counties in need of an emergency oil delivery.

Mallett said even though it has been a couple of weeks since the money ran out she fields calls daily from families seeking help.

Applications came from people of all walks of life, all with varying degrees of need.

“They just said basically they couldn’t afford it. They didn’t give an answer one way or another,” said Mallett. “It just cost too much money. They couldn’t afford to put that much money into their oil tank. What they were doing was… filling jerry cans.”

The maximum price per litre for home heating fuel took a four-cent jump last week and now stands at $1.10, plus GST. The next price adjustment by the Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission takes place Feb. 15.

Mallett expects that with the increasing cost of home heating fuel, more people will be seeking help from the Salvation Army.

But, she added, there is little that the organization can do.

The Salvation Army did receive home heating fuel donations from a number of oil companies, including Noonan Petroleum and Island Petroleum, and from several organizations and members of the public.

“There’s not a whole lot we can do but depend on the generosity of the public,” said Mallett. “We had a young woman in her early 20s come in and make a $100 donation. People are coming through and we are trying to help the people that are on the waiting list with that money.”

But with the need being so great those donations won’t go far, said Mallett.

“The money is not there for a lot of the families and that’s because they are seasonal workers. With the recent layoffs at a lot of places, it’s hard,” she added. “We’re just waiting to see where we are with our final tallies with the oil companies and what’s left over we are going to try and help the people that need it the most. We are going to try and help families with small children and seniors and those who are down and out.

“It’s easier for us, as adults, to keep warm but when you have children in your home it is extremely hard. I’m just hoping they have a little bit of oil.”

But the Salvation Army is not only being asked to help families heat their homes. Recently, the organization had to resort to dipping into its coffers to stock the shelves at its food bank, which are getting low.

Demand there, too, is on the rise, with 60 to 70 food hampers prepared each week.

“Supplies are down,” said Mallett. “We actually had to go to Superstore last week and make a purchase and that’s not going to get us very far. We’re in desperate need of sandwich meats and canned pasta and stuff like that for the children.”

She remains optimistic that the people of Prince County will rally and continue, as they have in the past, to help the Salvation Army to help their neighbours in need.









Organizations: The Salvation Army, Island Regulatory and Appeals Commission, Noonan Petroleum

Geographic location: Prince, Charlottetown, Queens Kings

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Recent comments

  • Ole jerry can
    February 04, 2013 - 20:45

    Nothing against the unfortunate folks who need to heat via the good ole jerry can. However, can the PEI goverment explain why they turn a blind eye to this? I'm sure not everyone who is filling jerry cans are so careful that they do not spill a drop. I needed to install a new tank after it ran out of inspection at a cost of $1700.00 and then fill it. Pardon me PEI goverment, I should have thought of the good ole jerry can....