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More people seeking help to keep homes warm

Warmth for Wake provide assistance with utility bills, firewood and space heaters to 200 area families last year.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — More people are seeking help keeping their homes warm this winter, putting pressure on programs that provide such assistance.

"We've gotten several calls already," said Erin Scheithe, director of community outreach for the North Carolina Bankers Association, which supports the Warmth for Wake program.

The program, which is coordinated by Wake County Human Services, helps area residents keep up with their electric or gas bills and provides firewood and space heaters to some homes.

Last year, the bankers association helped raise $29,000 through donations at bank branches across the county to provide assistance to 200 families. With higher unemployment this year, officials expect more people will have trouble keeping the heat on at home.

"Last year was a mild winter, so if you think about it, this winter already has been just a little bit colder. With the economic conditions, people who probably didn't need help last year will probably need help this year," Scheithe said.

Sylvia Wiggins, director of the Helping Hand Mission in Raleigh, said many families her organization serves already have put home heating on their Christmas wish list.

"I went to one lady's house and felt so terrible. They had one extension cord running from one house to the other house," Wiggins said.


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