Utility relief concert raised nearly $20,000

Money should help about 100 Hagerstown families heat their homes

Money should help about 100 Hagerstown families heat their homes

January 29, 2008|By JOSHUA BOWMAN

HAGERSTOWN -- A concert held last month to help people heat their homes in the winter raised almost $20,000 and another has been scheduled for next winter, according to one of the concert's organizers.

David G. Jordan, executive director of the Washington County Community Action Council, said the event was more successful than expected and could net more than $21,000 after all proceeds are collected.

"We didn't think we'd raise near this much money. We put inserts in everybody's heating bills last year asking for donations and raised $125," Jordan said.

He said the concert will be held again this year on Dec. 18, 2008.

The Utility Relief Benefit Concert was spearheaded by Hagerstown City Councilmembers Penny M. Nigh and Alesia Parson-McBean to help defray the high cost of heating bills for low-income city residents.


The two lobbied local residents and business owners to buy tickets in blocks, and received help from more than 50 sponsors.

Parson-McBean said during a press conference Monday at Hagerstown City Hall that about 100 families will be helped with the money raised by the concert.

"We know in the large scheme of things, this is not a lot. But it is 100 people who will not seek alternative forms of heat," Parson-McBean said.

She said she hopes the city's mayor and council can "get a handle on increasing utility rates" in the future.

Mike Weller of the Hagerstown Fire Department said that winter is always a dangerous time for people who cannot afford to heat their homes.

"They get desperate and turn on their ovens and stoves looking for heat," Weller said.

The Hagerstown Professional Firefighters Local 1605 donated $5,000 as seed money to help get the concert started.

The money earned from the concert, which was held at The Maryland Theatre on Dec. 20 and featured opera singer William Clarence Marshall III, will go toward the Community Action Council's utility assistance relief program, Jordan said.

Families whose income does not exceed 225 percent of the federal poverty guidelines are eligible to receive $200 from the program.

Weller said applications will be screened by the fire department, which will make sure every family who receives money from the program has a working smoke alarm less than 10 years old on every floor of their home.

If the alarms are more than 10 years old, the fire department will install lithium-battery alarms for free, Weller said.

People interested in the utility assistance relief program may call the Community Action Council at 301-797-4161.

In addition, Weller said all city residents can receive free smoke alarms by calling the fire department's 24-hour smoke alarm hot line at 301-791-2205.

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