by Tim Blotz
ROSEVILLE, Minn. (FOX 9) -- Do we keep the furnace on, or do we buy groceries? It’s a tough decision facing many Minnesota families, and Salvation Army bell ringers this week tried to help answer the question.
Volunteers from CenterPoint Energy manned the kettles at the IDS Center Crystal Court to raise money for the Salvation Army’s HeatShare program.
The money helps families in need pay for their heating bill this winter. Friday, the HeatShare program took an additional step, sending out service technicians to make sure furnaces are safe.
HeatShare typically assists between 4,500 and 5,000 families each year -- a fraction of the need limited by the amount of money the Salvation Army is able to collect.
"We don't get bailouts from the federal government,” Michael McGlone, of the Salvation Army, said. “We have to stay within our budget."
Without HeatShare, many people, like Linda Taylor, just couldn’t pay their heating bill.
"It would be impossible,” Taylor said. “I would be like, do you pay this bill? Do you pay that bill? So you really have to have your heat, you really have to have your electricity."
HeatShare’s annual budget is about $2 million. Most of its contributions come from CenterPoint, Xcel and customers who donate $15 to $20 through their utility bill.