Local News

Hundreds in Fayetteville seek help with heating bills

Posted February 3, 2014
Updated February 4, 2014

— The bitterly cold weather North Carolina has seen in recent weeks has sent hundreds of Fayetteville residents scurrying in search of help with their soaring heating bills.

People began lining up in the early morning hours Tuesday outside the Salvation Army Services building in Fayetteville, the second consecutive day that big crowds had arrived looking for help.

The Salvation Army taps into two federally funded programs that help pay heating bills for the elderly and those in need. Cumberland County residents have until March 30 to apply for help with winter heating bills.

Dozens also lined up on Monday morning, and by the time the office opened up around 8 a.m., the line wrapped around the building and nearly spilled into the street.

"They let in like 100 people," Bernice Bell said of the crowd that assembled Monday. "Then, five minutes later, they came out and said, 'Everybody can leave because we're not going to see nobody else today.'"

Brian Allen, a spokesman for the Salvation Army, said the two heating assistance programs provide aid on a first-come, first-served basis.

"We're just to capacity right now inside, and our staff is just totally full assisting people," Allen said. "We're getting to the individuals outside as quickly as possible."

That was small comfort to many of those in line, such as Cornelius Shaw, who was hooked up to an oxygen tank.

"I can't stay but so long myself because I'm going to run out of oxygen," Shaw said. "(Financial aid) is going to help me keep my lights on because, tomorrow, they're going to shut them off if I don't get some assistance."

Allen brought some chairs outside to help some of those in line with health problems, and he agreed to allow them to put their names on a list so that they would be seen first on Tuesday morning when the Salvation Army next accepts assistance applications.

Applicants can also apply for assistance over the phone, Allen said. Those who call 910-307-0359 may see a slower turn-around on help, though, because they are asked to fax of mail supporting documents.


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  • LastSon1981 Feb 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    You know you can get expensive shoes for like 85% off at flea markets and on craiglist. We cant tell what the people are going through by a picture. If this is a concern of yours and you live in or near Fayetteville drive out there and talk to them you may be surprised.

  • Vote for Pedro Feb 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Yea, the guy wearing a housecoat, and the one wearing a blanket to stay warm look like they're on their way to a Hollywood after Oscar's celebrity party.
    Expensive looking shoes, geeeez the compassion just oozes out of you.

  • LastSon1981 Feb 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    Wooow thats it just wooowwww

  • TP4Real Feb 4, 2014

    Yeah! These folks are obviously wearing clothes, therefore they don't need or deserve heat. How dare them have stuff!

  • brandy213122 Feb 4, 2014

    Salvation Army only pays up to $75 anyway. So if their light bill is about $250, they aren't going to get but $75 paid for. What are they going to do about the rest?? As for the older gentleman with the oxygen tank, I don't think the electric companies will shut off service if you have to be on an oxygen tank 24/7.

  • scubagirl2 Feb 4, 2014

    View quoted thread

    and to add to that, how many walk around their houses barefoot, in tank tops during the winter so have to crank the heat up to 75? Had a friend who did that-house always 75-80 but all the family walking around in shorts, tank tops and barefoot.

    I'm sure there a many legitimate requests but I also bet some are not.

  • rmsmith Feb 4, 2014

    Help the elderly. After that, require a background and drug test and ensure the money goes direct to the utility company.

    (Note the steel bars on the windows and doors)

  • Rebelyell55 Feb 4, 2014

    Certainly no surprise, since the state allowed the rate increase. Propane gas prices shot up. People on fix incomes were going to get hit and hit hard. I know many who kept their heat well below 65 deg. in order to save as much as possible and still had an 18 to 20% increase in cost. Sadly this month won't be much better.

  • foodstamptrader Feb 4, 2014

    You would think they would prioritize assistance to those in TRUE need? Elderly, those with severe health issues, disabled.

    The crowd shown in the pics look able bodied, well fed, non-elderly, many wearing expensive shoes, etc. Why are they even wasting resources and time on folks that can work and provide for themselves?

    Those really needing help probably can't even get there and stand around outside!

  • prettyj Feb 4, 2014

    If people focused as much on getting a job and supporting themselves as they did on getting assistance in paying their light bills or food stamps our economy would be in much better place. Fortunately I have a job that doesn't allow be time to stand in line all night and all day long to get help paying my light bill. If they have been there since midnight standing in line even at minimum wage by this time they could of already worked enough hours to probably pay their bill themselves. Its very sad. Think of how many jobs they could of applied for in the time they spent standing in line.