‘Heat for the Holidays’ seeks to warm houses and hearts

The "Heat for The Holidays" sign outside Winchester BMR, raising awareness of the campaign that aims to eliminate winter's chill for a month in the homes of 10 families selected by House of Lazarus and Community Food Share. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

Donations needed

WINCHESTER — Organizers of the new ‘Heat for the Holidays’ campaign hope to spark more donations to ensure deliveries roll with the maximum number of fireplace logs for local families before Christmas.

It’s a serious effort to offer about a month of heating in up to 10 qualifying homes, each receiving a one-tonne skid of “eco-energy logs” made of pressed hardwood sawdust. Winchester BMR proprietor Ken Boje is supplying the House of Lazarus (HOL) and Community Food Share — overseers of the program — with half of the log inventory as an outright donation and the other half at cost.

Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News

In turn, those local charities require donors to fund the balance. The program is aimed at House of Lazarus and Community Food Share clients with wood-burning appliances — not an uncommon thing for rural food bank users. Between the two food banks, eight families have been selected for the program already, with potentially two more to go before its fully subscribed. Now the campaign just needs to ignite some excitement from the donating public to reach its full and fair potential this year.

Donations sought

For fundraising purposes, the promoters are highlighting the figure of $63 — equivalent to one week’s heating cost with the manufactured logs — but they say any donated sum is welcome.

“The need is certainly there. We probably could do 20 families,” noted Boje of the potential demand. He got the idea from a similar campaign he ran at a large retail operation in Carleton Place, in that case distributing traditional firewood to 17 families.

But the pressed-wood product comes packaged in clean cardboard boxes (also burnable) and contains more energy per equivalent unit weight of regular firewood. The product is already dried to optimum levels as well. “And when you do the pricing … it’s pretty close to the same” as firewood, added Boje, who is also handling delivery for free, using a company boom truck.

This year’s recipient families — being selected by the participating food banks  — won’t pay anything, which is the whole point.

“Energy poverty continues to be a real issue,” observed Sandy Casselman, HOL’s Linking Hands Dundas County coordinator. Some must choose between eating or keeping their homes heated, she said. “If you have to choose between eating or heating, you’re going to heat your home,” she added.

Casselman reported that HOL operators have heard from “several clients” lacking enough wood to get them through the season.

Struggling families often rely on wood heat in rural areas, although it’s not necessarily cheaper when higher insurance costs are factored in, she said.  “I would say we have a lot more using wood than we know of.”

Extra insurance costs may be irrelevant in some instances, Boje ruefully pointed out, for a family long past affording a policy.

Donate to Heat for the Holidays by contacting or visiting House of Lazarus at 613-989-3830 (2245 Simms Street, Mountain), Community Food Share at 613-898-0781 (28 Ottawa St., Morrisburg, and 497 May St., Winchester) or Winchester BMR at 613-774-2700 (corner of County Rd. 31 and County Rd. 38.)

Boje’s store has also served as the staging area for other cold-weather-related initiatives like Project Warmth — the window-insulation-kit program — and the North Dundas Christmas Fund snowsuit campaign.

Via HOL, Community Food Share, the Canadian Mental Health Association and Upper Canada Health Link, Project Warmth distributed 180 single-window kits and 58 multi-window versions this year.

Boje said they’ve also noticed increased demand pressure on this year’s stock of snowsuits.

From left, HOL’s Linking Hands Dundas County coordinator Sandy Casselman, Winchester BMR proprietor Ken Boje and Community Food Share Administrator Ian McKelvie clutch the pressed-wood logs that will be distributed to less fortunate families later this month. Zandbergen photo, Nation Valley News


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