BRISTOL, Tenn. - The calendar says Spring is almost a week old, but you wouldn't know it from standing outside.
The StormTrack 5 weather team says temperatures are well below average for this time of year. That means homes are keeping the heat on longer, fighting off near-freezing temperatures.
It also means that more people need help keeping the heat going -- that's where groups like Bristol Faith in Action come in to play. "The number of people requesting gas and electric heating assistance is up by fire percent," says Faith In Action's executive director Tyler Franklin.
Bristol Faith in Action has already helped 174 people in 2013; 93 households were helped in March alone. They've spent $11,788 this month and $21,298 in 2013 so far.
"We have x amount of money and we budget a certain amount per month," says Franklin. "We know that the winter months are always going to be heavier, so we do budget more money for the winter months, but not at the level we're currently seeing."
Franklin tells News 5 they are seeing people without traditional means of staying warm. "What we're funding is that people have been disconnected from electric service, and so they are supplementing what they have by using kerosene heaters," he said.
Faith in Action says they provide up to ten gallons of kerosene at a time, but Franklin adds ten gallons doesn't go very far when trying to heat a house.
Franklin says they will help anyone in need, and not just with keeping the heat going. "If some tragedy has happened in their life and they need help with a rent payment, a mortgage payment, a utility bill, with food, then that's what we're here to do," he told us.
To get help, all that's needed is a visit to the Bristol Faith in Action office. They are located at 703 Chester Street in Bristol, Virginia.
Faith in Action asks that anyone seeking help brings a photo ID, Social Security card, and their most recent utility bill.
They are open every week, Tuesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 2 p.m.
In order to receive financial assistance, clients must make an appointment three to five days in advance of their due date.
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