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Volunteers chop tons of firewood for heating assistance

12:34 AM, Mar 3, 2013   |    comments
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Nearly every household's budget takes a hit during these cold winter months.

But for some paying the power bill can be incredibly stressful, because they just can't afford it.

For hundreds of people in Greene County, one ministry helps provide relief.

Most weekends over the past five years, a group of volunteers gets together to spend the day chopping firewood. During the cold winter months they deliver the loads to families in need.

"Most of these people it's their only source of heat," explained volunteer Tom Clark.

Clark discovered the ministry when he went to apply for heating bill assistance and wound up with a referral to the local food bank.

"The woman told me to go to the food bank, if I heated with wood, I could get two loads of wood for free," says Clark.

Clark is on social security and lives with his disabled son. Their fixed-income makes it impossible to afford their heat pump after October.

"We would be cold without it," said Clark.

He qualified for the program three years ago and says he's been volunteering on his Saturdays ever since, "to give back what they gave to me."

The idea took root five years ago at a local church.

"We were looking for some kind of mission work to get the men involved," said leader Greg Isom.

That first season Isom says a group of about eight men split fifty trailer loads.

This season he estimates they'll churn out more than 800 loads with the help of more than two dozen volunteers.

"There's about three hundred people on the distribution list," said Isom. "One thing I can't bear is someone going without the basic comforts of being warm."

The Greene County Firewood Ministry operates with the help of several local churches and donations from the public.

They also get to use the property where they store and chop the wood free of charge thanks to the generosity of the owner.

When they first began Isom says the food pantry was buying firewood and paying to have it delivered to the needy.

He says after their ministry stepped in and took over that operation, the food-bank was able to save about $40,000 a year.

Some people qualify for two trailer beds full of wood a year. But others need year-round help, according to Isom.

If you'd like to volunteer or donate click here.

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