Heat-Up St. Louis | St. Louis Public Radio

Heat-Up St. Louis

via Flickr/pasa

After a week of below-zero temperatures, with some nights hitting lower than zero, people in the St. Louis region are struggling to keep warm.

For some, that’s because they just can’t afford the cost of heat.

“We thought this was going to be a normal, quiet Christmas,” said Heatupstlouis.org founder Gentry W. Trotter, whose organization helps pay utility bills of people in 16 counties in Missouri and Illinois. But the temperature dropped, and since Christmas Day, more than 900 people have asked the organization for help.

(UPI/Bill Greenblatt)

Winter is taking its toll on Heat-Up St. Louis.

The charity said this week it has helped 19,398 people with their heating bills so far this season; a 29 percent increase over last year at this time.

Pam Walker, director of the St. Louis Department of Health, is asking residents and businesses to donate to Heat Up.

"We are anticipating that as many as 55,000 people are going to need help this heating season," Walker said, "and Heat-Up St. Louis is in need of resources."

There could be two new options for St. Louis residents to use their property tax bills  next year as a vehicle for charitable donations.

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Dec. 27, 2008 - Heat-Up St. Louis knows the drill.

Requests for energy assistance tend to spike following snowy and icy conditions such as those that swept through the area recently. This year, though, has been different. Many households were desperate for help long before the start of winter.