HOUGHTON COUNTY, Mich. (WJMN)- It’s no secret that the Upper Peninsula has cold and snowy winters that last most months of the year.
When gas bills get too high and the only source of heat is a woodstove, a program out of Hancock offers free firewood assistance to those who need it most.
Little Brothers, Friends of the Elderly is a non-profit, volunteer-based organization committed to relieving isolation and loneliness among the elderly.
One of those many services includes their Firewood Assistance program. Little Brothers has been providing wood to the elderly in the Houghton and Keweenaw counties for nearly 37 years now, and the program continues to grow. The program is year-round and survives off donations made by individuals and local logging companies.
Debby Hart, the firewood assistance coordinator, has been helping with this program for many years. She makes sure those who receive assistance from the program are getting the correct length of wood.
“There’s no sense in delivering wood to someone who can only take fourteen inches, you know if we give them eighteen-inch wood. That’s totally useless to them. So I want to make sure. When we get our elderly request firewood, I ask them what length they can take because everyone has a different sized woodstove. So I just want to make sure that the wood that we deliver, that the elderly can fit it into their woodstove. And it definitely gives you great satisfaction when you go deliver a load of firewood and you see the appreciation that the elderly have for receiving the wood.”
In the year 2018, a total of 358 volunteers cut, split, stacked and delivered 160 truckloads of wood to elders in the Houghton and Keweenaw counties.
Now there is nearly 107 elderly receiving firewood, with 34 of those being new elders this year.
Randy Eilola is a 63-year-old retiree and has been receiving firewood from Littles Brothers for two years now. His home has a propane broiler, but he says the price of fuel has gotten too expensive for him to pay therefore his woodstove is a huge source of heat. Due to many injuries, it makes hard labor like cutting and stacking wood nearly impossible.
“I hate to try and get out in the woods and cut wood. It’s a lot. With all the injuries I’ve had and everything. This saves a lot of time. I’m so grateful for them having that woodpile out there.”
With an increasing demand for firewood assistance, Little Brothers Friends of the Elderly are moving to a larger acred area next year.
To find out how to donate or apply for assistance you can visit their website at www.houghton.littlebrothers.org.