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Help with heating bills available soon

In the coming weeks, qualified Covington County residents will have two opportunities to seek assistance with their winter heating bills.

Two local organizations — the Covington County chapter of the American Red Cross and the Organized Community Action Program (OCAP) — will each have application periods for their respective assistance programs.

The first appointment series, held by OCAP, will begin at 8 a.m. on Tues., Jan. 5, and continuing until all slots are filled. No walk-ins will be accepted and appointments will be given on a first-come, first-served basis.

Funding for this program is made possible by a $1.24 million grant announced Friday by Gov. Bob Riley for the organization that serves Bullock, Barbour, Butler, Coffee, Covington, Crenshaw, Dale, Geneva, Henry, Houston, Lowndes and Pike counties.

The grant, awarded through the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP), helps eligible low-income, elderly and disabled residents pay their utility bills.

Applicants will be required to bring paper copies of the following documents with them at the time of applying:

proof of income for all household members from the prior month. This could be bank statements or check stubs.

a current, unpaid heating bill.

Social Security Card for each member of the household.

For an appointment, call 334-428-2660.

The second appointment series — Red Cross’ Project SHARE — will begin Mon., Jan. 11, at 8 a.m.; however, application packets will be available starting Mon., Dec. 29, at the Red Cross office on Hillcrest Drive and the Florala and Opp senior service centers.

Chapter Executive Director Merrill Davis said the program is designed to provide assistance to individuals (head of household) age 65 or older, or those on 100 percent disability, with their heating and cooling bills each year.

During the winter, Project SHARE is available to qualifying individuals and families to assist with heating In order to qualify for Project SHARE, individuals or families must meet not only age or disability requirements but also financial requirements.

Interviews will take place the week of Jan. 11, 2010. For more information, contact the Covington County American Red Cross at 334-428-2680.