Free heater program expands in Delaware

    The Warm the Heart program expands statewide entering its fifth year of providing free heaters to those in need.

    An effort to provide free heaters to needy Delaware residents is expanding this year, despite even tougher economic times for non profit groups.

    The Warm the Heart program started five years ago during very different economic conditions.  At that time Horizon Services co-owner Mark Aitken decided to offer help to Delawareans who needed a new heating system or needed repairs but couldn’t afford them.  Aitken says some of those who’ve been helped over the last five years had resorted to dangerous methods to heat their homes.  “We saw senior citizens in the city of Wilmington literally opening up stoves to heat a room, or heat their homes.”

    Now, after installing 50 heaters and repairing dozens of others for free, the program is expanding beyond New Castle County.  Because of the statewide expansion, and because the need is even greater this year, Aitken expects a record number of applications for assistance.  “Last year, we doubled the amount of applications, and this year we expect to double or triple them again.”  New Castle County Executive Chris Coons says the extreme need this year has already exhausted the county’s funds for helping those facing foreclosure and homelessness, “Hundreds of people were calling into us.”

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    Applications will be available at community centers and libraries throughout the state.  You can also find an online application here.  Applications must be received by the end of the year.  Aitken says the difficult decision of who will receive a new heater will be made by representatives of a number of non-profit groups.  Those recipients will be notified by the end of January.

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