Winter months can be dire for our neighbors in need

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The elderly woman, living alone on a fixed monthly income, choosing between her heart medication refills and turning up the furnace.

The breadwinner, struggling to pay bills for the family after losing the one job that was supporting them all.

The young family in a drafty apartment, knowing every time they nudge up the heat it means less money for groceries.

These are the people in our communities who are looking toward the winter months with particular concern. These are also the people who have been helped by generous donations from their neighbors into local fuel-assistance programs such as those offered by Project HELP, an energy assistance program administered locally by The Salvation Army.

Assistance programs are more important in today's economy than ever before. Particularly hard to reach are those who may be finding themselves in this position for the first time, having lost jobs and still struggling to find a new one during a tough recession.

Utilities like Pacific Power, their customers, employees and retirees, have stepped up to help, donating $80,000 in Washington this year to help those needing temporary bill payment assistance. This greatly helps local agencies such as The Salvation Army provide these critical services but, with the economy continuing to drag and local governments needing to evaluate every service they offer, you can imagine the need will be even greater this year.

This winter, no matter how mild it may turn out to be, will be a cold one for those struggling to keep their families warm and safe. Utilities and their customers have always been very generous with the donations that provide this assistance, and we're confident the support will continue. Any help you can provide is put to good use, helping your neighbors during these difficult times.

Please watch for donation envelopes in November Pacific Power bill statements. All donations are tax deductible and stay in the local community.

Thank you if you've already generously given to help those in your community. We gratefully welcome your continued support, joining your neighbors who may be helping for the first time.

Banding together to help each other during these difficult times -- it's the right thing to do.

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