PLYMOUTH – As we enter winter’s coldest month many are struggling to stay warm, with the pandemic compounding the perennial challenge of paying for fuel. Despite the economic downturn, local businesses and individuals have stepped up with donations for the Keep the Heat On annual fundraiser, to be held virtually this year on Wednesday, Jan. 13, at 7 p.m.

Keep the Heat On is a volunteer effort raising money for the nonprofit Plymouth Area Community Closet in support of its mission to assist residents of 15 towns in the Pemi-Baker Region with programs such as the fuel assistance fund and the food pantry.

“We can’t gather in person this year, but we’re encouraging everyone to stay home, stay safe, and help others by purchasing a ticket to our virtual ‘Unevent,’” said Keep The Heat On organizer Audrey Eisenhauer. “Everyone deserves to be warm and your support can help make that happen.”

George and Sheila Bonfiglio of the Rumney Village Store are among this year’s supporters who see the fundraiser as a way to give back to surrounding communities, saying, “We are neighbors helping neighbors during these challenging times.”

James Basford of The Grotto and Phat Fish adds, “We are glad our restaurants can support Keep The Heat On. Our community needs more people who do things like this for those who need the help.”

“These are very challenging times for many businesses as well,” noted organizer Denise Castonguay. “This makes the donations we’ve received from local restaurants, firms, and individuals all the more remarkable.”

Community generosity and volunteer efforts have enabled KTHO to raise more than $300,000 over the past 15 years. In lieu of the traditional auction, local businesses and individuals are providing an assortment of donated items for this year’s live online door prize drawings, and participants need not watch the live stream to win. All proceeds go directly to PACC assistance programs. The live stream will be broadcast via the Keep the Heat On Facebook page and YouTube.

Tickets are on sale now at $45 online at https://ktho2021.eventbrite.com. You must buy a ticket to be eligible for the door prizes. Those who do will receive an e-mail prior to the event with links for the live stream drawing.

The KTHO Committee has recently received additional door prize donations, which now include:

• Bakery Goodies (Donated by Wicked Good Bakery)

• Common Man gift certificates (Donated by Peabody & Smith Realty)

• Dinner for Four from Nourish Food Truck (Through Local Foods Plymouth—donated by Plymouth Area Renewable Energy Initiative)

• Fresh Flower Bouquets (Weekly, June through September—Donated by Pike Hill Farm)

• Gift Baskets with Five $25 Restaurant Gift Cards (Two Separate Door Prizes—Donated by Chase Street Market / Biederman's Deli, Covered Bridge Farm Table, Dam Brewhouse, Fugaky, The Grotto, Mad River Tavern, Phat Fish, Rumney Village Store, 6 Burner Bistro, and Walter's Basin)

• Gift Card and Goody Basket (Donated by Tamworth Distillery)

• Handmade Quilt (Donated by Sarah Bunkley)

• Heating Fuel (150 Gallons—Donated by Dead River Company)

• Overnight Stay with Breakfast at The Common Man Inn (Donated by Common Man)

• Painting (Donated by Alma Grand)

• XC Ski Lessons for Four People (Two Lessons—Donated by Joan Turley)

“We all know that this is not a normal year and are so grateful to all who are contributing in this time of so much need,” organizer Martha Richards said. “On the night of the UnEvent, we encourage ticket purchasers to get takeout in support of their favorite local restaurant, then watch the live stream drawing at 7 p.m. online to see if you win a fabulous door prize!”

KTHO hopes to raise as much as possible this year to purchase home heating fuel (whether that be gas, oil, propane, wood pellets, coal, or cord wood), and other vital necessities including food, clothing, and prescriptions. The cost of fuel and other essentials are simply beyond the means of many of our neighbors in the 15 communities served by PACC. The state’s Fuel Assistance Program, which is funded through the US Department of Health and Human Services, provides some assistance, but cannot meet the needs of all. Hundreds of families have benefited from KTHO funds over the past 16 years, with the number increasing every year.

“We understand the many financial hurdles home owners and renters can encounter at any given time for reasons that are beyond their control,” says Andy Smith. “A minor injury or illness can bring about financial stress and any way that we can assist someone in their time of need is exactly what we are doing by supporting this generous volunteer initiative for our local families.”

Anyone who would like to offer financial support can contact Martha Richards at maplerichards@gmail.com or 603-536-2279.

More information is available at the KTHO Facebook page, facebook.com/KeepTheHeatOn.

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