Now in its second year, nonprofits in Haywood have come together under the Million Coin Campaign, which rallies residents to purge their pockets of spare change in one of many collection jars blanketing the county. The slogan for the campaign says it all: “Cash Conquers Cold.” The coins are being amassed in a large container in the lobby of the Waynesville Police Department. Once full, the money will be divided among several charitable groups, including Haywood Christian Ministry, Mountain Projects and Haywood Christian Emergency Shelter to help needy residents stay warm in the winter months.
Local firefighters recently pitched in by standing outside Waynesville stores with boots in hand to solicit spare change from passersby.
Mountain Projects spearheads the Share The Warmth Campaign, an annual fundraising push to raise money for heating assistance for the needy. The agency kicked off Share the Warmth on Monday with an announcement that Champion Credit Union will match dollar-for-dollar, up to $10,000 in donations made by the public.
Mike Clayton, president of the credit union, said he hoped to fork over all the money because the need in the community is great.
“It’s not a drug head or a dead beat — these are people who have become disenfranchised,” Clayton said. “People living on fixed incomes, buying medicine, food and fuel, and they can’t do it all, so what might get slighted is the heat.”
Twin sisters Eva and Ellie Plemmons were among the first donors at the Share the Warmth kick-off at Champion Credit Union in Canton this week. They are also featured in the credit union’s commercials for the campaign along with their mother Rachel.
“When I told the girls what it was they ran to their rooms and dumped out their piggy banks to donate to the cause,” Rachel Plemmons said.
Their contribution: $4.69. But, it’s a start.
One of the largest benefits in town is Haywood Christian Ministry’s annual golf fundraiser, hosted by the Waynesville Inn and the Laurel Ridge Country Club. The summer event has been occurring for nearly 20 year and last year earned more than $100,000 in donations from local business owners, donors and participants.
The ministry then uses the money for its heating program that helps low-income families with propane, kerosene and heating oil needs. The program helps heat hundreds of households per year.
“It’s a God-send,” said Rusty Wallace, assistant director of the ministry, of the golf event. “We really, really depend on it to help with that program.”
Sometimes a little tricky math can even go a long way to keeping someone warm this winter. Some efforts come from utilities themselves. Haywood Electric Membership Corporation lets customers “round up” their monthly bill to the nearest dollar with the extra change put in a pot and given back to low-income customers, most of them rural residents who have trouble paying their heating bills.
“The most you’re going to pay is 99 cents per pop,” said Ken Thomas, manager of marketing and communications at the utility. “Nobody is going to miss that, and nobody’s going to mind doing it.”
Operation Round-up, and another a similar program by Progress Energy, raised nearly $100,000 to contribute toward energy bills in Haywood County this winter.