YARMOUTH — Donors have helped their neighbors by meeting a $20,000 goal for contributions to fund fuel assistance for residents in need.
The non-profit Yarmouth Cares About Neighbors, or YCan, officially started raising money at the end of November.
Johanna Hanselman, a Freeport town employee who is the regional general assistance administrator for Freeport and Yarmouth, said there are more people asking for help than in years past. She said the fuel fund has helped new and repeat customers.
“(General assistance) can really help with an unexpected emergency, as well as an ongoing need such as heating assistance, electricity, rent or food,” Hanselman said. “I think the fact that the Yarmouth community raised this much money shows the level of dedication and passion they have for their neighbors. Even when times are tough, people know that keeping their neighbors warm is important.”
Town Manager Nat Tupper said it is difficult to track exactly how much money has been raised for the fund since donations are sent to the town, the YCan organization and to the Freeport general assistance office.
He said with the $20,000 raised, plus a $4,700 balance from last year, residents will be able to receive a significant amount of heating assistance.
“We knew all along there are a lot of people who want to help their neighbors, but there was no clear mechanism to do that,” Tupper said. “YCan has helped to filled that void.”
Joy Ahrens, member of the YCan board of directors, said she was happy the community helped reach the goal so quickly.
“It is very exciting, the response from the community has been very generous,” she said. “We’ve received donations from a lot of different sources.”
She said individual residents, businesses, charitable organizations, the Lion’s Club, Rotary, Chamber of Commerce and school groups have all pitched in to help.
“People have put their own ideas into action,” she said.
Ahrens said each fund recipient receives 100 gallons of heating oil, worth about $360. She said around this time last year there were 15 requests for assistance, and by November this year, even with the mild weather, there were 21 requests.
“I think we set a generous goal and got the word out that there are many ways people can help,” Ahrens said. “Ideally if this could keep going it would be very helpful because the money will go out as fast as it is coming in.”
To make a contribution to the fuel fund, visit YCan’s website or call 838-2261. If in need of heating assistance, call 865-4743 ext. 120.