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Program aims to help Montanans facing heating challenges

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Posted at 2:03 PM, Oct 27, 2022
and last updated 2022-10-27 17:12:10-04

HELENA - Volunteers were out in force at Tenmile Creek Park sawing, stacking, and chopping firewood to help those in the community that may face heating insecurity.

“Well, I think we have a lot of people that need to burn wood for whatever, heating their homes, or whatever. And they simply, maybe they don't have a truck, maybe they don’t have an axe, they don’t have the ability, maybe they're physically handicapped. So, those of us that are more able can provide for those people,” volunteer Denise Gleason said.

The Warm Hearts, Warm Homes event is the second of its kind. With two loads of logs provided by Marks Lumber, the volunteers had plenty of wood to chop in preparation of giving it away for free to the public.

The initiative is a partnership between St. Paul's United Methodist Church, Gardenwerks, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), Marks Lumber, and Prickly Pear Land Trust (PPLT).

“We had people from all around the valley, from up in the mountains, from as far away as Great Falls coming down to get loads of firewood,” said Board Member with PPLT and member of St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, John Beaver.

As winter gets nearer and temperatures drop, those in need of fuel to warm their home are able to utilize this free service. This service is especially helpful with this year’s rising inflation.

“Most people are folks who are really self-sufficient. But they might be older, they might be disabled, they might not be able to collect their own firewood anymore. But they still heat their homes with wood. And so, they're in a bind because, you know, buying firewood’s expensive. And so, this is an opportunity for them to heat their homes for free,” says Beaver.

With recent rate hikes at Northwestern Energy, and a recent report predicting that families nationwide will pay 17.2% more than last year to heat their homes this winter, this free heating resource is bound to be welcome.