As the temperature dropped, Sylvia Morgan of Sterling began to panic. After foot surgery, the Loudoun County Public Schools employee could not serve food to local students. Gas and electric bills piled on top of her counter and she knew she would have to ask for help.
"I had no income. My gas had been cut off for two weeks. I had nothing. I was crying," Morgan said.
Morgan called the county’s Department of Social Services, who directed her to Loudoun Cares, a nonprofit human services center in Leesburg.
LOUDOUN CARES executive director Andy Johnston said there is a great need for assistance during the winter months. "High gas prices are a strain on some local families," he said. "A lot of people need help this time of year."
The Loudoun Cares Fuel Assistance Fund was set up to help local families who are unable to heat their house or pay their gas and electric bills during the winter. Johnston and his staff work with other organizations that have money for helping with rent and utility bills.
"Part of the beauty of this initiative is the inclusive partnership involving the nonprofit community, the business community and the faith community and government," Johnston said. "Every base is covered."
PARTNERS LIKE the Rev. Jack Grubbs of Potomac Falls Episcopal Church in Sterling help fund the Loudoun Cares Fuel Assistance Fund.
Grubbs has worked with Loudoun Cares, on a case-by-case basis, for more than a year.
"We have a good partnership with Loudoun Cares," Grubbs said. "We work together with them to identify the needs of people in the community and how we can help them financially and in other ways."
His church has helped individuals pay rent, utility bills and "different things like that," he said.
As fuel prices increase, Grubbs anticipates the number of families in need of assistance will go up.
"Our church is committed to helping members of the community," Grubbs said. "Loudoun Cares created a vehicle for us to do that, particularly with the fuel assistance fund. We can get money right into the hands of people who really need it."
Businesses like N.E.W. Customer Service Companies Inc. are participating in the fuel assistance fund as well.
The business, located in Dulles, has donated $5,000 to Loudoun Cares to go toward its fuel fund.
The check will be presented at N.E.W.’s corporate headquarters Dec. 7.
"It shows that somebody cares," Morgan said. "I could not have made it without them. I really would not have. There was no way."