/‘Very much needed’; Heat Bank warms up for winter months
This year’s in-person portion of the annual Heat Bank Auction at Rhubarb Restaurant is now sold out, but the online version is live and active leading up to the event, with all proceeds going right back into the communty. /photo submitted

‘Very much needed’; Heat Bank warms up for winter months

By Emily Stonehouse

It’s that time of year again. The days and nights are getting colder, and the household needs begin to change. This is when the Heat Bank becomes particularly important. “We’ve seen a 27 per cent increase in households needing our help,” said Rachel Gillooly, the client services and volunteer coordinator for the Central Food Network. “That’s 220 calls for assistance, and nearly 340 people.”

With the median home energy annual cost nearing $4000, options for heating are becoming increasingly more challenging. 

Heat Bank Haliburton County is a program of Central Food Network, a local non-profit. The organization provides free and confidential support for local households who are struggling to keep their heat and lights on. It is confirmed that nearly 50 per cent of individuals in Haliburton County are living in energy poverty, with over ten per cent of their income going towards home energy. 

Through offering grants, financial assistance, support, and materials for heating the home, the Heat Bank fills the gaps for some of these needs in the community. “Any household in the county facing a firewood emergency is eligible for one truckload of firewood,” said Gilloolly. “We don’t need proof of income to release the first load. We can help with an additional two truckloads for households with low income.”

One of the means that the Heat Bank has the funds to support these families is through their annual Heat Bank auction, hosted through Rhubarb Restaurant. “Last year we raised over $33,000,” said Gillooly, “and it would be great to raise more than that this year.”

With nearly 100 items up for auction, the hybrid online/in-person auction features local artisans, foods, holiday gifts, gift certificates, and experiences. “The timing for this auction is great,” said Gillooly, “between now and the end of December, there are a lot of holidays coming up, so a great time to purchase gifts.” 

The auction is split into two parts: the silent, online portion, which runs until the evening of Nov. 26, followed by the live auction portion on the same evening. At this point, the dinner and live auction portion are entirely sold out, but the online auction is still available for individuals to support, and at the time of publication, has raised over $10,000. 

While the need for energy support is high in the area, Gillooly notes that none of this would be possible without the community partners along the way; sponsors, donors, and Rhubarb Restaurant. “We couldn’t provide these services without the generous support from community members of Haliburton County,” said Gillooly. 

Visit https://app.galabid.com/heatbank23/items for the full list of auction items.