In November, Washington Gas kicked off its winter season giving program, “A Day of Warmth – Caring for Our Neighbors.”
The initiative featured company volunteers and nonprofit groups coming together to distribute 1,000 warming kits which include cold-weather essentials such as blankets, food boxes and energy efficiency and assistance tips.
The kits were delivered to residents in need across the District, Maryland, Virginia and West Virginia.
“We are proud to be part of the Day of Warmth and we are grateful to Washington Gas,” said Mark Bergel, founder and president of A Wider Circle, a nonprofit organization founded in 2001 with a mission to end poverty for individuals and families.
“If utilities can understand what families are going through, and respond to that, and become proactive and respond to that fight, then I hope we won’t have to do this kind of work and that people won’t be in that position where they need this kind of help,” Bergel said.
COVID-19 prevented Washington Gas from conducting its normal day of weatherization activities in customers’ homes, so the company adapted a volunteer project to help community neighbors prepare for the winter and meet critical needs. The company also considered how food disparities could hurt specific communities.
“We thought the winter safety kits and food boxes would be a token of our appreciation for our neighbors in need,” said Daminique Branch of Washington Gas.
“Our country and the world are living in unprecedented times but Washington Gas and the community effort prevail and still find a way to find out what your needs are and are reaching out,” Branch asserted in a video about the special “Day of Warmth.”
A Day of Warmth also included a focus on food care assistance. During the past eight months, Washington Gas has increased resources and donation dollars to alleviate food insecurity and to support food banks across the region’s service territory – benefiting local farmers, food producers and the restaurant service industry.
Washington Gas said it would continue to work with Food Equity Councils in Prince George’s and Montgomery counties.
The company pledged to also work with the Get Shift Done initiative that includes service in Washington, D.C. as part of a $250,000 donation recently provided to address the growing trend of food insecurity impacting local communities.
The company and its employees from Teamsters Local 96 volunteered to organize and pack the 1,000 winter safety kits.
“It’s a privilege to have food delivered to the house,” said Maria, a Hyattsville, Md. resident, who noted her fear of going out because of the coronavirus pandemic.
The “Day of Warmth” continued the tradition of community support ahead of the winter season.
The “Day of Weatherization” has remained Washington Gas’ signature volunteer event for the past 15 years, bringing together employee volunteers and local and regional nonprofit groups to weatherize selected D.C. area homes for winter – as many as 150 a year.
The efforts helped customers keep their homes warmer during the cold winter months and save money at the same time.
The new “Day of Warmth initiative” was designed to capture the same spirit of caring and warmth by donating essential materials to energize our communities as winter conditions approach the area, officials said.
While the format of the winter program changed this year, Washington Gas officials are still encouraging customers to take simple steps (such as caulking, weatherstripping and insulating any openings where air may infiltrate) to help manage their home energy costs and stay safe, warm and energy-smart when temperatures begin to drop.
According to Washington Gas, the typical home saves an average of 25 percent on energy consumption. It can save an average of more than $280 annually in heating and cooling costs following weatherization.
A diverse set of nonprofit partners – including A Wider Circle, Manna Food Center, Mary’s Center, Mission of Love, Arlington Food Assistance Center, Northern Virginia Family Service, Friends of Ridge Road, Highland Food Pantry and Food Security – helped put the kits into the hands of those in need.
Officials noted that Washington Gas has a proud history of partnering with local and regional nonprofit groups and a company culture of giving back to the community through philanthropy, volunteerism and charitable giving.
“Washington Gas is committed to giving back to the communities we serve and we are delighted to have partnered with our local and regional nonprofit groups for ‘A Day of Warmth’ to create an innovative way to continue our tradition of helping neighbors in need as we brace for harsh, cold weather conditions across the region,” Blue Jenkins, the president of Washington Gas said in a news release.
“We are especially grateful for our company volunteers and nonprofit partners who continue to work tirelessly to meet the growing needs of our community during these challenging times,” Jenkins said.