Ever checked that box on your utility bill? Here’s how it helps real people

The Salvation Army has received $100,000 from Duke Energy in addition to $210,000 in customer contributions and matching funds for the 2018 HeatShare program, which will help those facing eviction for past-due utility payments stay in their homes.

The program provides people in need with financial assistance to pay for heating bills. Many of the families receiving help from the initiative are facing disconnection and possible eviction as a result of their inability to stay current on their utility bills.

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HeatShare was established in 1986 to assist Ohio residents in need with winter heating bills and is funded by Duke Energy customers, employees and shareholders.

Assistance is available to eligible Duke Energy customers not only in Butler County but across southwest Ohio and will provide heating assistance from Jan. 16 to April 30, or until funds are depleted.

If funds are available after April 30, they may be used for cooling assistance, according to Cindy Givens, program manager at Duke Energy. She explained that the program will reach more people thanks to the partnership with the Salvation Army.

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“We’re delighted to partner with our customers and The Salvation Army to help ensure those in need won’t be cold this winter, especially with the single-digit temperatures we experienced earlier this month,” Givens said.

In order to get started in the process, officials say that those seeking help must call 513-863-1445 to schedule an appointment.

Sally Thelen of Duke Energy said people in need of assistance may also call The Salvation Army HeatShare line at 513-762-5636 to schedule an appointment for the program.

According to Thelen, more than 19,000 Duke Energy Ohio customers voluntarily added a contribution to their monthly bill and contributed $110,000 to the assistance fund in 2017 to help others pay their utility bills.

Duke Energy Ohio provided a $100,000 donation and then matched all customer and employee donations up to $100,000.

In 2017, the program provided utility assistance to 810 families across southwest Ohio.

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