Catholic Charities of Delaware, Otsego and Schoharie Counties is raising funds to help community members who need heating assistance.

The fundraiser, named "Keeping our community warm one brick at a time," is part of the organization's Caring Connections Program. It started in November and will go until March 2020, according to a media release from the organization.

Catholic Charities aims to prevent people from having to choose between necessities like food, heating their home or paying rent, according to the release.

In addition, car or medical emergencies that cause financial setbacks can force people to dip into their heating funds to pay for them, Catholic Charities Executive Director Lynn Glueckert said.

"For people who live paycheck to paycheck, the winter is a very hard time," Glueckert said. "It can be financially a stressful time for people."

People, groups or businesses can buy a brick from Catholic Charities for $25. The brick will have their name on it and will be used to build the fireplace that can be seen in Catholic Charities' window at 176 Main St. in Oneonta.

Funds raised from the bricks are sent to the utility companies of people who qualify for the assistance, Glueckert said.

Last year, Catholic Charities helped 125 households with more than $37,000 in heating assistance. The agency provides heating assistance from Oct. 15 until April 15, Glueckert said.

The funds are only given to people who aren't eligible for other public assistance programs or services, Glueckert said. Catholic Charities meets with people to learn their financial needs and try to help them find further assistance after the minimum delivery it provides runs out, she said.

Glueckert described the program as a "safety net" and said none of the households helped last year got more than one grant of assistance.

"We don't see people come back for assistance," Glueckert said. "It must fill in the gap they have."

To purchase a brick, stop by the agency's office in Oneonta. Donations can also be mailed there. For more information about the fundraiser or the work of Catholic Charities, call 607-432-0061 or visit www.charitiesccdos.org.

Shweta Karikehalli, staff writer, can be reached at skarikehalli@thedailystar.com or 607-441-7221. Follow her @DS_ShwetaK on Twitter.

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