Last Thursday, the National Weather Service forecasted 170 potentially daily record cold temperatures across the northern Plains and upper Midwest beginning Monday and continuing through Wednesday. To some this sounds like the welcome beginnings of a winter wonderland; to others, a warning sign of the impending freezing nights.

For some families on Pine Ridge a strict budget grows even tighter in the winter months, balancing food, medicine, and other utility bills as fuel costs skyrocket. In the upper plains of South Dakota, harsh winter storms regularly drive temperatures down to -5° (a punishing -30° after wind chill). With many homes lacking proper insulation as a matter of costly repairs, a consistent source of fuel for warmth often makes the difference between life and loss on Pine Ridge.

This divide is where Running Strong’s Heat Match program comes in: for every $100 a resident posts towards a propane purchase, Running Strong matches with another $100, effectively doubling the amount of fuel at half of the cost to the resident. Considering that the Pine Ridge regional propane distributor requires a $200 minimum purchase to make a supply run, the Running Strong Heat Match program enables many residents to receive necessary fuel stores who otherwise would go without.

The Running Strong Heat Match program has been weathering storms on Pine Ridge for more than 20 years now; in 2018, we matched over a thousand families’ propane purchases. Plunging degrees become deadly before too long – fortunately, just a few dollars can make the difference

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