As you’re counting your blessings this Thanksgiving, be sure to add a warm home to your list.
Unfortunately, not everyone in Greene County has that luxury as they struggle to pay for heat and other bills.
The Coal Fund, founded and sponsored by The Greeneville Sun and administered by Greeneville-Greene County Community Ministries, has been providing needed emergency assistance for decades to local people who cannot afford to heat their homes.
The Thanksgiving holiday marks the kickoff for the annual fundraising campaign, which asks the community to donate to the Coal Fund in support of those unable to keep their homes warm.
“There’s been a lot ask for heating already,” Community Ministries Executive Director Carmen Ricker said.
Some days, the agency’s Food Bank on Cutler Street sees as many as 60 families between 9 a.m. and noon, she said. They usually ask for food first, but many of them also ask for help with heating — propane, electric, and wood.
“This winter has already proven to be colder than former winters,” she said, which increases demand for assistance.
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 assist with heating homes.
Heating assistance through the Coal Fund is typically given one time during the heating season, which runs from November through the following April.
Donations to the Coal Fund are accepted at any time.
Last year the Coal Fund campaign wrapped up with $70,742.
This year, a big concern for Community Ministries is inflation, Ricker said. Landlords are raising rent, and some families are making tough decisions.
“Our biggest concern right at this minute is people facing homelessness with families,” Ricker said. “I just can’t stand the thought of children being homeless.”
Community Ministries does not take any administrative fees on the Coal Fund program, and all funds raised go toward helping Greene Countians stay warm when 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.