HELENA — The brutal cold of Montana winters can be costly when keeping homes heated, but on Thursday, volunteers with Warm Hearts Warm Homes worked to keep their neighbors in need comfortable.
A group of 40 people gathered at Tenmile Creek Park to help saw, split, stack, and haul roughly 10 cords of lumber; which will then be given to those who are unable to get their own.
“With all the different costs of living and inflation and whatnot, they couldn’t afford electric gas, they couldn’t afford their heat. So, they rely on wood, and for people who are older or disabled, they don’t have a way to get it,” said Prickly Pear Land Trust Board Member John Beaver.
This year is the third year that Warm Hearts Warm Homes has worked to heat houses, and volunteer Tracie Hayward has been involved for the past two.
She first found the organization when she needed a way to stay warm on cold Montana nights.
Hayward said, “I was one of those in need. I probably wouldn’t stay warm if it wasn’t for these guys.”
Warm Hearts Warm Homes is a community partnership with eight different organizations; including Prickly Pear Land Trust, St. Paul’s United Methodist Church, Marks Lumber, Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) and Montana Conservation Corps.
They are already getting calls from people who want to pick up wood.
“I just had a text from a woman just now saying she had no firewood and she wondered if we had any available now. I was happy to tell her yeah, because last night was cold and her house had no heat,” said Beaver.
As for Hayward, she recommends reaching out if you could use help.
“If you are in any kind of need, any kind of struggles, don’t let the heat be your worry. There’s bigger worries than that when you got people like this organization that is willing to help keep you warm,” Hayward said.
Warm Hearts Warm Homes plans to meet one more time this year, and to date, they have helped keep 40 homes heated.
If you’re interested in volunteering or need firewood, call LIHEAP at (406)447-1625.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with corrected information about Warm Hearts Warm Homes.