Help Needed to Warm Hearts, Homes

Mountain Empire Older Citizens invites local churches and individuals to join the upcoming Hearthwarming Sunday, an initiative that provides vital midwinter support for the Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly. 

The fuel fund annually provides emergency heating assistance to about 1,000 older adults in Lee, Scott and Wise counties and the City of Norton. Now is the time of year when requests increase, and funds dwindle. The annual Hearthwarming Sunday, held on the Sunday closest to Valentine’s Day, provides a much-needed boost to help meet requests through the remainder of the winter. 

As of Jan. 31, the Emergency Fuel Fund has helped 777 individuals since Nov. 1, resulting in expenses of more than $167,842. The program will run through March 31. Following recent brutal winter weather, MEOC Emergency Services Director Marsha Craiger anticipates a spike in emergency heating requests, especially when the next round of power bills reflects the bitterly cold temperatures. 

“When heating expenses increase even slightly, the struggle becomes more difficult for older people trying to make ends meet and pay bills for necessities. With frigid temperatures like we have experienced in the last few weeks, some will likely have to choose between purchasing food or paying heating bills. These are the types of decisions people are having to make this winter,” said Craiger.  

To participate in Hearthwarming Sunday, churches and individuals assist in the best way for them, explained Craiger. Some churches collect special love offerings from their congregations. Others take on Hearthwarming Sunday as a benevolence project.    

“The local churches have always generously given to the Emergency Fuel Fund for the Elderly. By giving to the fund, you directly impact people’s lives. To those in need, it is a blessing and lifesaving in many circumstances,” Craiger added.  

As always, every cent given will directly help an older person in need. No donations will ever be used to pay for any administrative costs.    

Churches or individuals desiring more information about Hearthwarming Sunday may contact Craiger at (276) 523-4202 or   

Want to mail a donation? Send to MEOC, ATTN: Emergency Fuel Fund, P.O. Box 888, Big Stone Gap, VA 24219.

You may also click HERE to make a one-time or recurring contribution.