SUMMERSIDE, P.E.I. - For those struggling to keep warm in winter, the Summerside Salvation Army provides one-time assistance with heating costs through funds provided by the provincial government, as well as donations.
Captain Dolores Abbott said last year they burned through their heating assistance program in the bitter cold.
“In Prince County alone we helped anywhere between 100 to 200 people.”
Abbott continued, “I find there’s a big need in Summerside. We have the Soup kitchen going five days a week, the Food Bank open three days, and the Thrift Store.
“We usually help more than 80 people in one week.”
The heating program was born in 2008 in response to soaring energy costs. Since then, government has helped more than 300 households across the province per year.
“If they (the province) give us $40,000 and we get 100 qualified applicants, they will receive $400 paid directly to their home-heating provider. But this money goes very fast and we try to help as many as possible.”
Registration is still open for the annual home heating program, and funds go typically towards natural gas, oil, propane and electricity.
“At this time we have about 20 per cent of the funds used, so there is still time to apply, and the program will continue until April or when the money is all gone.”
To qualify for the program, households must bring their 2016 Income Tax Assessment or, proof that they are in need.
“People come here and when you look at the amount of money they have you wonder how they can survive. After paying their bills, it leaves them very little. It’s heartbreaking.
“If you are going to take $100 to pay for groceries then come in to the Food Bank and we can help you. Take that money and put it towards your electricity.”
Abbott added, “Thank God that the government on P.E.I. steps up to the plate and helps.”
West Prince residents can collect an application for the program at one of the Food Banks in the area, and email or post forms to the Salvation Army in Summerside, with attention to Dolores Abbott.
Those in Kings or Queens County can visit the Salvation Army in Charlottetown, located at 203 Fitzroy St.
For more information, visit the Summerside Salvation Army social media page.