BY O.J. EARLY
Stories of local families struggling to keep warm are plentiful for Carmen Ricker, executive director of Greeneville/Greene County Community Ministries.
One disabled Greene County man's income wasn't enough to cover monthly expenses.
His request: food and kerosene to heat his home so that his family would stay warm during the winter months.
"I'm sure for a parent not to be able to take care of his family is heart-breaking and a major stress factor," said Ricker
"We were grateful that Community Ministries was able to assist this family."
The 2013 Christmas Coal Fund exists to help such people.
The campaign, sponsored for decades by The Greeneville Sun, is now underway.
Donations received so far this year for the Coal Fund total $43,750. More than $5,000 has been donated since Nov. 27.
Contributions to the Coal Fund are accepted year-round, although the campaign officially runs from Thanksgiving through Dec. 31, Ricker said.
Here's how to contribute:
Gifts in the form of either checks or cash may be delivered directly to the Community Ministries office at 107 N. Cutler St., between 9 a.m. and 3 p.m. weekdays. Checks should be made payable to The Coal Fund.
Contributions also can be mailed to:
The Coal Fund
P.O. Box 545
(Because the Coal Fund is considered one of the outreaches of Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries, Inc., contributions are deductible for federal income tax purposes. Receipts will be provided by Community Ministries upon request of the donor.)
Since Community Ministries staff administer the Coal Fund without charge, 100 per cent of all contributions to the Fund goes to help keep local people warm during the cold months ahead this winter.
Community Ministries staff members screen applicants for heating assistance to ensure that they meet program guidelines.
Ricker explained that all Coal Fund donations go toward home heating. "It's not co-mingled with Food Bank (funds) or any other agency," Ricker said.
In allocating Coal Fund assistance, she said, Community Ministries staff members first try to help families with small children, and homes with individuals who are seriously ill or who are 70 years or older.
AID LIMITED TO $120
As in recent years, Ricker said, Coal Fund assistance is limited to $120 once during the heating season, "unless it's an absolute necessity."
When the Coal Fund began decades ago, a great many Greene Countians heated their homes with coal.
Given that reality, the dollar amount of heating help that could be received by any one recipient during the winter season was based on the cost of a ton of coal.
The local use of coal ended many years ago, however, and so the standard of assistance per recipient changed from the cost of a ton of coal to the approximate cost of 100 gallons of home-heating oil or kerosene.
But that approach also had to be changed several years ago, Ricker said, when the price of heating oil and kerosene rose dramatically.
Now, the amount per recipient per season is $120 in almost all cases.
The same $120 of Coal Fund help per recipient, she said, will be paid either toward the cost of heating oil, kerosene, residential propane, natural gas, or electric bills of approved Coal Fund applicants.
The key issue is to help Coal Fund recipients with the cost of heating their homes, whatever method they use.
WOOD MINISTRY VOLUNTEERS
The volunteer outreach known as the Wood Ministry is again helping the Coal Fund this year.
The volunteers gather, split and deliver wood to those approved by the Coal Fund who can heat their homes with wood.
The wood is provided free of cost to the Coal Fund and the recipient by the Wood Ministry.
New contributions to the fund include, as of Dec. 2:
* Tom W. and Betty M. Parker, $25;
* First Church of God Crusaders Class, $50;
* Fairview Cumberland Presbyterian Church, $250;
* The Greeneville Sun, $2,000;
* CAPT Robert W. Lively, USMC (RET) and CDR Jeannette A. Lively, USN (RET), $200;
* Anonymous, $70;
* Laughlin Memorial Hospital Volunteer Services, $500;
* Christ United Methodist Women, $100;
* Hans and Osa Andersen, $100;
* Gene and Janice K. Buxton, $100;
* Randy and Kathy Pless, $200;
* In honor of Linda Hjertquist on her birthday by John and Karen Strange, $20;
* In honor of Linda Hjertquist on her birthday by Steve and Martha Ottinger, $20;
* In honor of Linda Hjertquist on her birthday by Donald and Reva Joyce Hyde, $20;
* In honor of Linda Hjertquist on her birthday by Herbert and Ruth Whitfield, $20 and
* Anonymous, $1,000.
* The following donations were given by Scott and Nikki Niswonger:
* In honor of John Fisher , $50;
* In honor of Debbie Oldenberg, $50;
* In honor of Robin Shepherd, $50;
* In honor of John and Kim Tweed, $50;
* In honor of Jeff Idell, $50;
* In honor of Nancy and Harold Dishner, $50;
* In honor of Barbara Bates, $50;
* In honor of Kathy Odell, $50;
* In honor of Niswonger Foundation Grant Staff, $50
* In honor of Tom Bullard, $50;
* In honor Angie Wilson, $50;
* In honor of Curt Henderson, $50;
* In honor of Bill Brown, $50;
* In honor of Carla Bewley, $50;
* In honor of Dan Spice, $50.00;
* In honor of Michael Douty, $50;
* In honor of Loren Plucker, $50 and
* In honor of John and Dinah McInturff, $50.