The 2014-2015 season will be the seventh year, the Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches is asking church members and the community at large to give the price of a gallon of heating oil to the Association’s One-Gallon Challenge Fund. Contributions will provide heating assistance to needy southern Clinton County residents.
This year’s Challenge is $4 per person. Each year of the One Gallon Challenge, the community has outdone itself in its generosity.
2013-2014 raised $35,986.00 providing heating assistance for 74 families.
2012-2013 raised $19,698.00 providing heating assistance for 61 families.
2011-2012 raised $19,445.59 providing heating assistance for 53 families.
2010-2011 raised $14,845.67 providing heating assistance for 48 families.
2009-2010 raised $9,366.28 providing heating assistance for 34 families.
2008-2009 raised $7,431.94 providing heating assistance for 27 families.
Anyone who wishes to contribute to the One-Gallon Challenge may give through their local church, or they may mail their contribution directly to Rev. Bruce Wallace, 507 East Main Street, Lock Haven 17745.
Please make checks out to SCCACC.
Church contributions will be collected at the SCCACC sponsored Community Thanksgiving Service on Sunday, November 30 at 7:00 PM at the Hillview Wesleyan Church.
Southern Clinton County residents in need of heating assistance may contact the Rev. Bruce Wallace at 570-606-4949 during office hours between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM on Monday through Friday. Heating assistance from the Association of Christian Churches will be administered as a supplement to LIHEAP grants. Applicants must first have their LIHEAP application processed before the Association will help.
Thank You for Your Generous Gifts
Following are articles from the Lock Haven Express that will help you understand what the One Gallon Challege is and how the SCCACC ministerium assists the community.
Thank you to all who have assisted with this challenge to once again help keep people warm this winter. The generosity of First Quality and the Damaghi family as well as that of local churches and individuals, has enabled us to help literally hundreds of our neighbors over the years.
Thank you to the Lock Haven Express for your concern and your coverage of area events like you do.
February 19, 2011
LOCK HAVEN – The One-Gallon Challenge issued by the local ministerium resulted in donations totaling $10,965. The money has been used to help needy families heat their homes this winter.
As of Monday, all of the money has been given out, and any future requests for help will have to wait and see if more donations come in.
Rev. Bruce Wallace said he is confident the community will continue to come through and rise to the challenge, with each person donating the cost of one gallon of heating oil.
He handles the donations as treasurer of the ministerium, formally named the Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches. The first contribution was banked Oct. 27, he said, and the last disbursement was made Monday. A total of 36 households have been helped so far this winter, he said.
“Everybody has been very generous this year,” he said. “We actually exceeded last year by about $1,600.”
Each year has been better than the previous, he noted. The first year, donations totaled $7,342, and last year, a total of $9,366 was received.
At the same time, the costs of heating fuel and utilities have risen steadily.
The fact that the program has been able to help 36 families so far this winter is a good indication of success, Rev. Wallace said. Last year, 33 families were helped, and 27 received funding in the program’s first year.
The pastor predicts that despite the groundhog’s forecast of an early
spring and the mild temperatures yesterday, there will still be a few months when local families will be hard-pressed to pay for heat.
St. Agnes Roman Catholic Church plans to make an additional donation, Rev. Wallace said, and he has hopes that other congregations will make a second push for contributions.
“We are completely out of money right now with all of our funds,” he reported.
The SCCACC helped four additional households with undesignated funds, he said, but “all of that is spent now.”
One-Gallon Challenge contributions are used for heating help only, he said, and they can be used to help specific families only once per winter.
When he receives a request for help, he takes the family’s information and finds out if they have applied for LIHEAP (the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program). He double-checks with that program before releasing One-Gallon Challenge funds, he said, partly to verify that the request is valid but also to find out if the family might not be eligible for more federal help.
Wallace said he is concerned that Pres. Obama’s 2012 budget proposes severe cuts in LIHEAP.
Such cuts would make it be more important than ever to answer the One-Gallon Challenge.
The challenge is to donate roughly $3.50 per person in your household to help families in a financial bind. If you haven’t done so yet this winter, or even if you have, now is a good time to step up and contribute.
Those interested in making a tax-deductible donation should do so through a local church, Rev. Wallace said. Otherwise contributions may be mailed or dropped off to him at East Main Street United Methodist Church, 507 E. Main St., Lock Haven, Pa. 17745.
- By WENDY STIVER
Fuel aid needed now more than ever
POSTED: October 19, 2009
LOCK HAVEN – The Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches is again issuing the One-Gallon Challenge to help neighbors in need with heating oil assistance.
The challenge this year is for a contribution of $4 per person to the association’s One-Gallon Challenge fund.
In 2008, concerned that heating oil prices had risen to nearly $4 per gallon in the midst of a recession, the pastors of Southern Clinton County met as early as August to discuss the needs many families would have during the heating season.
They then challenged church members and county residents to contribute $4 each to help others in the area heat their homes.
Church and community generosity exceeded anyone’s expectations, reported Rev. Bruce Wallace: $7,432 empowered the association to help 27 households last fall and winter.
Association President Rev. John Snyder encouraged pastors to challenge the community to top last year’s effort by at least $500.
“This year, our neighbors on the economic margins face an additional challenge. LIHEAP heating grants will be smaller this year, and narrower income guidelines will mean that fewer households will qualify for this form of assistance,” Wallace said.
Wallace, who has administered the association’s aid program for the past 11 years, said, “It’s 37 degrees and snowing … on the 16th of October! What will November bring? Folks are cold already and worried about heating their homes. I’ve had 25 calls for help in the past five days alone!”
The SCCACC is a cooperative effort of pastors and churches in providing emergency assistance whenever possible to families and individuals who are homeless, at risk of homelessness or in need of basic services.
In the past 12 months, the association has given $34,674 in assistance, through the generosity of local churches, community members and First Quality Enterprises.
Citizens who wish to contribute to the One-Gallon Challenge may do so through their local church or by mailing their contribution directly to Rev. Wallace, 507 E. Main St., Lock Haven, PA. 17745. Checks should be made payable to the SCCACC.
Warm response tops $5,000
From Staff Reports
POSTED: December 27, 2008
WENDY STIVER/THE EXPRESS
LOCK HAVEN – Even with the cost of heating fuel dropping week by week, keeping a home sufficiently warm during winter months can be a serious burden to families on a budget, especially during a recessionary economy.
Local pastors and their congregations have mobilized the community with their One-Gallon Challenge to help local families who have been hit hard by the economic downturn.
The response in the past several months has taken the aid fund from zero dollars to $5,000 and beyond.
The One-Gallon Challenge, a concept of Rev. Steve Shipman of United Evangelical Lutheran Church, asked all who are able to hold their heads above water financially to give just the cost of a gallon of heating oil – at the time, about $4.
Churches in southern Clinton County gathered donations from their members and contributed them at the ministerium’s community Thanksgiving service at St. Luke’s United Church of Christ. The offering was $3,286, and combined with individual contributions, the total rose to $5,470.
Some 53 Christian congregations exist in this region, according to Rev. Bruce Wallace, treasurer of the Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches, the local ministerium.
“Most are small and likely financially stressed like everyone else these days,” he said. “So with so many needs in our community, instead of asking, ‘What can one church do?’ why not ask, ‘What can a group of churches do, cooperating on the basis of their common Christian faith, to reach out and help our neighbors in need?'”
The voluntary regional association brings pastors together for a monthly lunch, a chance to pray together and discuss concerns and projects of interest to all.
And, over the years, SCCACC has reached out to the community in a variety of ways, Wallace reported. At one time, the association coordinated daily radio devotions and Sunday service broadcasts, nursing home services and hospital chaplaincy. SCCACC organized three well-attended Light the Levee events, from 2001 to 2003, a “See You in Church” campaign in 2000 and community revival services in the mid-1990s.
For the past four years, it has provided significant support for the summer “Chaplain in the Park” at Bald Eagle State Park in Howard, under the auspices of the Pennsylvania Council of Churches.
Also, several local pastors have organized the Tri-County Youth Network to augment local youth ministries with annual youth events for all.
“The SCCACC has touched the most lives over the years through its Aid to Needy Persons Fund,” the treasurer said. “With contributions from a dozen churches, First Quality and private citizens, the fund has helped persons and families in the area with small amounts of emergency aid to keep families in their homes, keep their homes warm, help them get to and from work and similar needs.”
Wallace serves as “the central clearinghouse,” he said. “If one of our churches is contacted for help,” he said, “I evaluate the request and provide the help, as long as our policy allows and we have the funds to do so. By processing all requests through a central database, we can cut down on duplication of services.”
Help is ordinarily limited to $200 per household per year. First-time callers are helped regardless of church affiliation, if funds are available.
Subsequent requests for help must be approved by the pastor of the church the client attends, or a pastor from whom the client is receiving financial counseling.
“We are a church-based organization,” Wallace said, “and we make no apology for placing a high value on church participation. Chronic need can be a sign of an underlying spiritual need, and a supportive congregation can surround a person with love, offer helpful guidance, and perhaps provide additional material assistance beyond the limited amount that the association is able to give.”
Over the past 12 months, he reported, the SCCACC has given $20,225 in small amounts of aid to persons and families here. Over the past 11 years, aid given has totaled $279,627.
“The generosity of First Quality and the Damaghi family as well as that of local churches and individuals, has enabled us to help literally hundreds of our neighbors over the years,” Wallace said.
First Quality also has come through with another large contribution to the Aid to Needy Persons Fund, Wallace reported. He releases the funding from First Quality on a budgeted basis, he said, but it puts the association in “a much better position” to help local families.
Recently, both heating costs and homelessness have been in the forefront of the association’s concerns. Several local pastors are working with the Clinton County Homeless Coalition, toward the goal of providing a homeless shelter for the community.
At current prices, the One-Gallon Challenge has brought in enough to help 23 or 24 families by providing a minimum delivery for their home, Wallace said, and five families have already been helped since the Thanksgiving offering.
“Larger churches, smaller churches, and individuals throughout the community rose to the challenge,” said Wallace. “At $4 per person, everyone could participate.”
“I was especially moved,” he added, “by a generous gift from Beth Yehuda Synagogue in Lock Haven, who read about the challenge in The Express and decided to pitch in.”
For more information about the Aid for Needy Persons Ministry of the Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches, call Wallace at 893-6890.
Contributions may be mailed to SCCACC, c/o East Main Street United Methodist Church, 507 E. Main St., Lock Haven, PA. 17745.
By WENDY STIVER — wstiver@lockhaven
POSTED: September 26, 2008
LOCK HAVEN – The average American family has changed a great deal in the last five decades. If the Andersons from “Father Knows Best” were real, we suspect Jim would have lost his insurance job in a corporate down-sizing or be hospitalized over the stress of trying to hang onto it by a fingernail. Margaret would have sold her pearl choker and gotten a divorce. And all three kids would be working so they wouldn’t have much time left over to get into scrapes, or even find a prom date.
Today’s Andersons might resemble your own family. Perhaps it’s a blended one with five or more children and adult partners who must live paycheck to paycheck from several part-time jobs. Perhaps you’re a month or more behind on some bills and no one has any idea how you’re going to handle the next crisis – which very well could be the high cost of heating the house this winter.
With the price of gas, fuel oil, food and all merchandise that has to be transported anywhere on the rise, something’s got to give.
If you’ve already given as much as there is to give, where will you turn when winter bills become overwhelming?
Help is available but it’s limited. Based on the figures on hand today, many of the families who will come knocking this winter will stay out in the cold.
But the “One-Gallon Challenge” could go a long way toward making up the deficit.
The local ministerium has in the past had some funds to help the destitute, those who are homeless or at the end of their financial rope. The group of pastors, called the Southern Clinton County Association of Christian Churches, also has tried to help households get through bad patches by paying for a minimal amount of heating oil.
Rev. Bruce Wallace, the organization’s treasurer, said the money just isn’t there right now to do much, if anything at all, for families facing cold, harsh realities. More contributions are definitely needed, he said.
The SCCACC is issuing a challenge for all church members in this region to contribute “one gallon of oil,” Wallace reported. That’s approximately $4 from each person.
The One-Gallon Challenge offerings from each church will be received at the community Thanksgiving service.
If the challenge is at least partially met, the combined power of the congregations could make a difference, but as Wallace cautioned, one delivery of oil to just one family could cost $460, considering that fuel companies generally require a minimum of 125 gallons per delivery.
Fuel company managers can be compassionate, he was quick to note, and some deliver less than 125 gallons if he tells them of a household that is in a real emergency.
The SCCACC has in the past capped its fuel assistance at $200 per household, Wallace said, but that amount doesn’t buy much these days. The cap is fluctuating, just as oil prices are.
He and his wife, Rev. Zelma Lang, live in Lock Haven and have contact with 375 families who have on average $1,500 per month to live on, they report. Some families live on $800 per month. Some are single parents with children, Lang said. In others, a parent is ill or disabled.
“It’s a sad state of affairs,” she said.
The couple does everything they can personally to help people they think just need a boost over a bump in their life’s path. But they are just two people.
An organized community response, such as the One-gallon Challenge, will go much farther.
If, for example, 7,000 people take the challenge, whether through a church or not, that could be enough to buy a minimum delivery of oil for more than 60 families.
These families would, of course, be vetted through the ministerium and Wallace, who has years of experience of listening to and investigating sad stories. He is careful not to encourage poor financial practices, he said, such as over-spending at Christmas when it’s clear heating bills are going to be high.
Who would not want to give $4 to help their neighbors?
Unfortunately, Lang said, those of us who can afford that $4 aren’t always aware of the need.
“People who have a decent living don’t realize how one-third of their community lives,” she said.
Wallace’s church, East Main Street United Methodist, opened its doors recently to the American Rescue Workers who set up a table there twice a week for awhile, hoping to find out what families will need help this winter. However, it apparently hasn’t been cold enough yet for many people to turn to charity, and that effort has been suspended.
The ARW isn’t going away, though.
Craig Gibbs, director of the ARW’s Love Center in Jersey Shore, said he and his wife, Denise, the center’s office director, are helping the organization expand into Clinton County.
The American Rescue Workers is looking into a Christmas distribution in Clinton County, possibly at the Lock Haven Area Assembly of God on Hogan Boulevard, as well as establishing a new food pantry here.
Craig and Denise also are taking applications for Homeless Assistance Program (HAP) funding, money that comes from the Department of Public Welfare and that is being administered this year by the Clinton County United Way.
“We are able to help,” Craig said. “We set up an appointment to help them in Lock Haven or, if it’s easier for them, they can come here… We are working hand in hand with the local United Way.”
Taryn Sprague, executive director of the Clinton County United Way, said the county has $32,000 in HAP funding which her agency distributes as pass-through money.
“Essentially if somebody is homeless or about to become homeless for whatever reasons, we can help them,” she said.
The definition of homeless, she said, is “no home to live in.” People with a roof over their heads, with or without heat, aren’t technically homeless under this program.
HAP money can, however, get people off their friends’ couches or out of their cars and into the Fallon, Angelo’s and similar hotels, she said.
The money comes with DPW guidelines, she said, and those who receive help must show this would be a one-time hand-out for them.
“The HAP money can get a person over the hump, but there needs to be some indication that they can pick up the ball and take care of themselves,” Sprague said.
The United Way Board of Directors, meanwhile, sees the need for heating funds looming ahead and has set aside an initial $10,000 to address it.
“This is purely United Way money,” Sprague said. “It does not have the same standards as HAP. It’s purely focused on heating and other types of assistance.”
“It’s not really going to go very far, but it’s a nice start,” she said. “The reality is, when heating oil and companies require a $400 minimum, it’s not going to go as far as we would like it to go.”
The United Way office will take phone calls and “try to make determinations of who is the most needy,” she said. That phone number is 748-7856.
“The board is interested in keeping their finger on the pulse of the situation,” Sprague added.
The Salvation Army is another standard shelter in a financial storm, but with only $2,000 available for fuel assistance, it may be able to help only five families, reported Tabitha Hayes, caseworker and office manager at the citadel at 119 E. Church St.
The citadel uses money from FEMA’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program, she said, and also can help with limited amounts for electricity and water bills.
The local Salvation Army asked families last year to show they could help themselves by paying $100 or so toward the fuel delivery the citadel arranged, Hayes said, and the same condition may apply this year.
If so, it’s possible that help for a sixth family could be squeezed out of the funding, she said.
Households with children and the elderly receive priority, Hayes said, and they must show they have a financial plan and can get through the rest of the winter.
The local Salvation Army receives the funding in two lump sums, one portion at the beginning of the year and the other in the summer, Hayes said, and she endeavors to save it all for winter heating emergencies. It must be spent by the end of the year, though.
“We try to wait as long as we can to spend it,” she said. “The weather just gets colder.”
The Salvation Army helps families in other ways, too, and is famous for its Christmas distribution.
It hosts the local food bank but also has its own food pantry, Maj. Margaret Johnson, the officer in charge, reported. The citadel’s food pantry gives out boxes of food on Wednesdays, designed to supply a family with four days worth of food.
Also, the More Than Bread Program at the citadel provides free meals from 11 a.m. to noon Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays.
Donations from the community, whether toward heating help, the food program or Christmas baskets, are always welcome, Hayes and Johnson said.