The weather in McLennan County may still hover around 80 degrees, but area agencies are starting to campaign for donations for heaters to have ahead of colder nights.

For the third year, area agencies have partnered to collect donations to meet the needs of elderly and low-income residents who do not have adequate heat in their homes.

Caritas executive director Buddy Edwards said the partnership between the various organizations is a significant asset to the community and he appreciates Meals & Wheels for leading the effort.

“If you have a home that’s not well-insulated and there’s issues of cold air coming in, it can really create serious health problems for people,” Edwards said. “Those of us fortunate to have heating and air, we really can’t fully realize the impact of not having that because we don’t go without it.”

Friends for Life, Meals & Wheels, the Area Agency on Aging of the Heart of Texas, Caritas, Heart of Texas 2-1-1, Act Locally and Enrich Seniors have set a goal of distributing 300 heaters this year.

Each partnering agency will distribute heaters to the clientele it typically assists, said Laura Ziemer, Meals & Wheels director of client services.

Before taking on her role as director of client services this summer, Ziemer spent two years performing home visit assessments with Meals & Wheels clients.

“It seems kind of small, but the difference between a space heater and having no heat is big,” she said. “People are afraid to spend money on items like heaters when they get $500 a month and they can’t afford food.”

Each heater costs $20, she said.

The groups will accept money or heaters. They recommend the Patton Electric Utility Milkhouse Heater, PUH680-WM1, Ziemer said.

Residents can make checks payable to Meals & Wheels, add “Heater Project” to the memo line and send them to P.O. Box 85, Waco, Texas 76703.

To pay by credit card, residents can call 752-0316 between 8 a.m. and noon Monday through Friday and mention the Heater Project.

Residents also can order one or more heaters directly from Wal-Mart or any other vendor and have it delivered to Meals & Wheels at 501 W. Waco Drive, Waco, Texas 76707.

As adults age, some are less mobile, keeping their body temperature lower than more active people, Ziemer said. Many clients also may not have family around to help, she said.

“We wouldn’t want our parents to be cold. We don’t want them to be cold,” she said. “We respect them as people and we want to have their basic needs met in what ways we can.”

Ziemer said the groups have heard positive remarks from individuals in the past who have received a heater through the project.

“They do work well. They make a big difference for our folks that don’t have reliable heating or maybe can’t afford to pay the gas bill for it,” she said.

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