Coal Fund Kickoff

Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Executive Director Carmen Ricker visited the Greeneville Sun recently to kick off the annual fundraising campaign to support the Coal Fund with Greeneville Sun Editor Scott Jenkins and Publisher Paul Mauney.

Temperatures have already begun to drop this fall, and while, for those fortunate enough to have the means, that simply means turning the heat on a little early, others struggle to cover the cost of the added expense in addition to other existing bills.

The Coal Fund, founded and sponsored by The Greeneville Sun and administed by Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries, has been providing needed emergency assistance for decades to local people who otherwise cannot afford to heat their homes.

Each year, the Thanksgiving holiday marks the kickoff for The Greeneville Sun’s annual fundraising campaign, which appeals to the community for donations to the Coal Fund to support those who find themselves unable to afford the cost of keeping their homes warm.

Funds reserved from last year’s donations have already supported a few community members this month, Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries Executive Director Carmen Ricker said.

“It always happens when it gets cold early, and it is usually older people or people with really young children who need it. We’ve helped some already with what we had left over from last year, but we will see more,” she said.

Last year Ricker said she expected the COVID-19 pandemic to worsen the typical annual need for heating assistance, and recently she said she anticipates it will continue to have an effect.

“We’ve not seen the end of COVID yet,” Ricker said. “We will see how much of an impact it has as we take on more people, but I know it is still having an impact because as long as we have cases, we have people who are out of work.”

She said money is tight for many people regardless of the pandemic, but the pandemic has made matters more difficult for many.

“It seems like it’s payday to payday for a lot of people anyway, not even counting COVID, but I have seen several families where either the husband or wife had COVID, and they needed help,” said Ricker. “If they’re quarantined, they have COVID or they’re home with a family member who has it, they have in interruption in their work, and then when we have a cold spell, they might not have the money.”

The Coal Fund works together with the Wood Ministry, a companion heating assistance program made up of volunteers who gather, split and deliver firewood to those who heat their homes in that way, to assist more eligible families and individuals whether they use oil, electricity, kerosene, natural gas or propane.

Heating assistance through the Coal Fund is typically given one time during the heating season, which runs normally from November through the following April.

The fundraising campaign typically begins the day after Thanksgiving and finishes after the new year, but donations to the Coal Fund are accepted at any time.

Last year the Coal Fund campaign wrapped up with $81,586.

Community Ministries does not take any administrative fees on the program, and all funds raised go toward helping Greene Countians stay warm when the temperatures turn cold.

Contributions to the Coal Fund are tax deductible, and Community Ministries can provide receipts upon donor request. Donation lists for the fund are published and regularly updated in The Greeneville Sun.

Donations are accepted in the form of cash or checks and can be delivered directly to the Community Ministries office, 107 N. Cutler St., 9 a.m.-3 p.m. weekdays. Checks should be made payable to The Coal Fund. Contributions can also be mailed to The Coal Fund, P.O. Box 545, Greeneville, TN 37744.

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