- Associated Press - Sunday, December 27, 2015

CHATTANOOGA, Tenn. (AP) - Thanks to donations from a “secret Santa” and friends, Metropolitan Ministries of Chattanooga has received $167,900 to help neighbors in need keep warm through the end of the year.

Rebecca Whelchel, executive director of MetMin, said the unknown givers were concerned about people who have to make hard choices at Christmas time, the Chattanooga Times Free Press reported (https://bit.ly/1JCoOCL ).

“Many people in our community can’t afford their most basic living expenses,” Whelchel said. “Thanks to the incredible generosity of this group of donors, thousands of people who are waiting for their power to be cut off will have a much happier holiday.”

The utility EPB said as many as 1,500 households and 3,675 people would benefit from the contribution. The anonymous donors asked that the fund be prioritized to prevent disconnects for first-time nonpayment as well for as seniors and others with special needs.

But EPB officials said they hope the fund would cover the costs for everyone who can’t afford to pay their bills during the holidays.

Over the past year, more than 26,500 households in the EPB service territory have had trouble paying for their electricity usage on time, according to a release from EPB. It said EPB tries to keep down the number of disconnects by setting up payment plans whenever possible.

In that spirit, Whelchel pointed out that utility assistance is a year-round need.

Apart from this special holiday project, MetMin raises about $120,000 every year to pay electricity bills for people in need, she said.


Information from: Chattanooga Times Free Press, https://www.timesfreepress.com

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