With the rising costs of energy bills, some seniors, many of whom live on fixed incomes, find their budgets drastically shrinking. But the Dawson County Senior Center has partnered with the Dawson County Sheriff’s Office to ease the burden.
Firewood for Seniors is an organized effort between the senior center, the sheriff’s office and local grading contractors.
Grading contractors donate wood to the sheriff’s office, where inmates saw and split the wood as part of the department’s work detail program. Then the sheriff’s office delivers the prepared wood to senior citizens who apply to take part in the program through the senior center.
“A lot of senior citizens suffer because of the cost of gas. We thought it would be nice to help them heat their homes and ease their costs a bit,” said Dawson County Sheriff Billy Carlisle.
The program aims to reduce energy costs for seniors and eliminate the strenuous efforts it takes for seniors to obtain firewood themselves.
“People are in so much need these days, with the economy getting worse. Thankfully, our program is more organized than it’s ever been. We are really prepared to help our seniors,” said Margie Weaver, director of the Dawson County Senior Center.
“It really saves seniors so much money,” she added.
Dawson County Sheriff’s Office Major Jim Petrella has run the jail side of the Firewood for Seniors Program for the past 12 years.
“You would be surprised to learn just how many people in this county rely solely on wood to heat their homes,” said Petrella. “We are proud to provide this service to our seniors.”
Petrella not only takes pride in this program because of how it helps seniors, but the effect it has on the inmates who participate.
“They just love to do it. It makes them feel like they are giving something back to the community,” explained Petrella. “They are happy to cut the wood, deliver the wood and stack it on the seniors property however they want,” said Petrella.
According to Petrella, every participating senior receives an entire truck load of wood. Seniors are free to apply for the wood as many times as they need throughout the year.
In order to be eligible for wood, an individual must be at least 60-years-old and sign up at the center. Sixteen seniors have received wood so far this year.
“And the season is just getting started,” said Weaver. “As winter approaches, the more expensive it becomes to heat our homes.”
The senior center is grateful to the sheriff’s office for ensuring more seniors can heat their homes and cut down on energy costs.
“It’s a great partnership with the sheriff’s office. They are wonderful for allowing it to happen. We hope to have this program going for many more years,” said Weaver.
For more information about the senior center or the firewood program, contact Margie Weaver at (706) 344-3700.