BLUE HILL — St. Francis by the Sea Episcopal Church in Blue Hill has announced that the Heating and Warmth Fund (THAW) will be its fair partner in 2011. The Heating and Warmth Fund is a function of Washington Hancock County Agency.
The 22nd annual St Francis Fair will be held on Saturday, Aug. 13, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Blue Hill Fairgrounds.
Each year a nonprofit organization that serves the Blue Hill Peninsula pitches in to help make the fair successful and shares in the profits.
The Washington Hancock County Agency began 40 years ago to “bring community resources together to help people in Washington and Hancock counties achieved self-sufficiency and a better quality of life.”
Unlike the agency’s other programs, THAW does not receive any funding from government agencies. It is completely dependent upon grants and donations from organizations and individuals.
THAW provides fuel delivery, furnace repairs, utility bill payments and reconnection services to elderly residents on fixed incomes, families just above the LIHEAP eligibility level, those recently unemployed who do not qualify for other assistance and many struggling families with young children.
By law, utility companies may not cut off electricity during winter months, and some families face huge electric bills in the spring, bills they cannot pay. Some use medical devices that depend upon electricity. THAW funds help prevent them from their losing power.
To serve as many of those in need as possible on limited funds, THAW tries to limit the amount it spends to $200 per family. Local vendors frequently waive the delivery charge for orders of less than 100 gallons of heating oil and volunteer to make minor repairs. Other local groups pitch in to help whenever possible.
Since the economic slowdown, there has been an increase of about 100 families per year who need assistance.
This past winter, THAW aided over 500 area families.