MEREDITH — Eight years ago, a group of women from Meredith, Center Harbor and Moultonborough got together to create Turn Up the Heat, a fundraiser to help their neighbors stay warm through the winter.
Since then, the group has raised nearly $150,000, which is made available to anyone in those three towns who needs help keeping their home warm in winter.
It wasn’t a novel concept. One of the founders, Jeanie Forrester, got the idea while she was working as town administrator for Plymouth, where the “Keep the Heat On” fundraiser was started in 2005 and has grown into a large banquet and auction.
Forrester said she and her fellow founders – Carol Gerken, Terry Jutton, Barbara Lauterbach, Renee Speltz and Helen Heiner – weren’t interested in anything as ambitious as Plymouth’s event, but they thought they could do something to help.
“We talked about how we can do it for our area,” Forrester said. Their approach was low-key but effective. Each year, they wrote cards to local businesses and asked for a contribution to the fund. Proceeds are split evenly among the three towns’ welfare offices and made available, no strings attached, to residents of those towns.
“Anyone who needs fuel assistance can go to the towns and ask,” Forrester said. The resource isn’t just for heating oil. The funds can be used for wood pellets, electricity, even furnace repair. “If you need assistance, please call your welfare office and ask for the fuel assistance fund.”
The first year, 51 businesses responded to the request. Now, the partnering businesses number in the hundreds.
For more information on Turn Up The Heat, call Forrester at 603-380-2523.