Oneok gives more money to Salvation Army's energy assistance fund

Friday, February 3rd 2006, 9:50 am
By: News On 6

A charity that helps pay heating bills is getting some help to do that. The parent company of Oklahoma Natural Gas donated $400,000 to the Salvation Army Friday.

News on 6 reporter Emory Bryan says the check was handed over to the Salvation Army, from the ONEOK Foundation Friday afternoon so the Salvation Army can help needy Oklahomans with their heating bills.

Ginny Creveling with the ONEOK Foundation: "and the foundation is just so pleased to be able to make this additional contribution and really it's because of the ONEOK shareholders that we're able to do this."

The money comes as some Oklahomans struggle to pay the full cost of heating their homes. Salvation Army Captain August Pillsbury: "It's hard to say why we've seen the increase this year but we're definitely seeing the increase and we've got to help the people and this is how we do it."

The Salvation Army in Tulsa gets 45 requests each day for help with utility bills. That's a 30% increase from a year ago. On average, each family gets $250 from the Salvation Army, and with the $400,000 donation, that's 1,600 families who can get help.

The gas company says bills are up right now, even though in most cases usage is down because of the weather. That's because people are still paying for gas they used back at the end of December, when it was a bit colder. Don Sherry with Oklahoma Natural Gas: "even though we've got warmer weather and the gas prices have come down from the previous month, gas bills are still considerably more than they paid the previous year."

The best news for everyone is that gas prices are dropping and the weather is warming up. That and big checks like this will help people afford the cost of staying warm.

The money will be distributed by the Salvation Army in counties served by Oklahoma Natural Gas. The Salvation Army decides who qualifies, based on income and expenses.