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REAS matching challenge seeks donors

Patrons sample area restaurant specialties at last year’s Taste of the Towns fundraiser for the REAS Foundation in Charlton. The Sturbridge wing of the group is holding a $1K Challenge again this year to help the town’s seniors with their heating costs. (click for larger version)
November 10, 2010
STURBRIDGE — It is a frigid January night. The temperature is expected to plummet to 10 degrees overnight, not counting the wind-chill factor.

A 70-year-old woman living by herself wants to take a hot shower before going to bed, but there is no hot water or heat in her house. Even worse than the fact that she is still cold despite wearing layers of clothing and sleeping by the fire is her realization that tomorrow night will be no different — nor will the next night and the one after that.

Unfortunately, thousands of senior citizens in New England have endured similar experiences since the economic downturn began in 2008. With the cost of heating oil rising each year, many elderly people who do not qualify for state and federal assistance have been forced to choose between heating their homes, purchasing medications, and eating regularly. Often times, these people fail to qualify for federal assistance because their yearly incomes barely exceed the specified cap, although they do not make nearly enough money to pay for heating oil throughout the winter.

As a result of the growing number of people who elected to forego heating their homes, non-profit organizations in many communities have decided to raise money to assist them. One such organization is the Residential Energy Assistance for Seniors Foundation (REAS), which was established in 2008 to help qualifying Sturbridge seniors stay warm.

"Seniors shouldn't have to suffer in silence because they can't pay their heating bills," said REAS Executive Director Thomas Creamer.

REAS strives to earn $20,000 each year through fundraising efforts, and it has successfully accomplished that goal in each of its first two years. Recently, an anonymous donor from Sturbridge issued a $1K Challenge to fellow residents, providing them with a great opportunity to help REAS reach the $20,000 dollar plateau for a third consecutive year.

For more on this story, please see tomorrow's Southbridge Evening News.

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