Running Strong’s Heat Match: Helping Families Stay Warm on Pine Ridge

On Monday, January 7 at around 8 a.m. the first residents of the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation were already lining up on the cold winter morning outside the Running Strong for American Indian Youth® field office, Tipi Waste Un Zanipi (Wellness Through a Good Home).

They arrived for the opening of the first day of the Running Strong Heat Match program, which provides residents with a dollar-for-dollar match of up to $100 to enable them to meet the minimum cost of $200 to have a delivery truck come to their home and fill their tank with propane.

Dave Lone Elk, Running Strong Field Coordinator, reported that there has been a steady stream of residents pulling in to hand in their money orders and applications, which Dave ensures will be matched and provided to Lakota Plains Propane.

Within just a few hours of the start of the program, Dave said he has been hearing from applicants that their propane tanks were on their last 5 percent and that they were happy that the Heat Match program, which has served Pine Ridge families for 20 years, was resuming today – just in time!

And Dave is wasting no time ensuring their tanks will be filled immediately.

“I told them we’d get them taken care of today,” he said.

Among those participating in the Heat Match program today was Penney.

“We’ve been waiting for this,” she said. “It gets hard for us after Christmas and our tank is almost on empty.

“Running Strong seems to always pull through when we need it the most!”

Last year, 1,010 Pine Ridge families were able to remain warm in their homes through the Heat Match program, even when the temperatures outside were not just sub-freezing, but below zero with wind chills in the negative double digits.

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