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Who Benefits from Ski for Heat

All funds raised through this fundraiser will go directly to fuel assistance programs at one of five Vermont Community Action Agencies depending on the event location. Community Action Agencies exist nation-wide to provide important services to help alleviate conditions of poverty and support community development. Fuel assistance is provided to those with demonstrated need, often in an emergency situation where they don’t have enough money to keep themselves or their family warm. This important program bridges gaps for individuals and families allowing us to first address this basic need then working with them to try and address the root causes of their situation. There are many thousands of Vermonters that depend on fuel assistance support in emergency situations.

How it started

Ski for Heat is the result of an idea by Peru resident Martha Robertson to help local families in need. The idea for this event came when she wanted to make a charitable contribution to a worthy cause during the holidays . . . Years ago, she and her sister stopped exchanging gifts for Christmas (thinking that being blessed with a twin is a present every day!). Instead, they decided to make donations to a charity or organization, so Martha’s thoughts turned to the cold winter ahead anMart_WildWings-300x199d the difficult financial choices some households have to make, especially this time of year. Was there a way she could help neighbors meet these demands? Could she fill someone’s oil tank with heating oil? 

Hmmm . . . how to do this? Since Martha and her husband struggle to pay their own bills, the only way she could afford to make her hope of “giving heat” to a family become a reality was to somehow raise the money. And so it began—the snowball started rolling.

Martha decided that she could create her own “ski-a-thon” fundraiser by asking her family and friends to lend a hand in the cause: If she were to pledge to ski her heart out on a specified day, would they be willing to make a donation to put into a “fuel fund” for the benefit of a family who couldn’t afford to heat their home? In the process of working out the logistics of anonymously donating a tank of heating oil, Martha eventually ended up talking with BROC-Community Action in Southwestern Vermont in Rutland, who was enthusiastic about the idea that could benefit their heating fuel assistance program and wanted to get involved!

The folks at BROC joined in and offered to help with the administrative work and publicity, as well as to provide non-profit status to the event (making donations fully tax-deductible to the extent of the tax code). The (then) CVPS stockholders became partners, matching donations through their Shareheat fund. The next pieces in the puzzle to make this plan work were Chuck and Tracy Black, owners of Wild Wings Ski Touring Center (in Peru), who generously donated—and continue to donate—their facility to Ski for Heat.
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In 2010, Kate Coffey, from Barre, contacted Martha, asking if a Ski for Heat program could be held in the central part of the state, with proceeds benefitting the heating fuel assistance fund at Central Vermont Community Action Council. Yes! And so Kate, with the kindness and cooperation of Morse Farm Ski Touring Center (Montpelier), have been helping neighbors in need in their part of the state.

Fast-forward to this year: All five of Vermont’s Community Action Agencies (CAAs) plus Ski Vermont plus Ski for Heat are combining efforts to make this a statewide fundraiser, so that eligible residents throughout Vermont may receive heating fuel assistance, and so that anyone throughout Vermont may play a part in helping. Let’s keep Vermont warm!!

Ski for Heat Today

Working in collaboration with Ski Vermont and with Vermont’s five Community Action Agencies (CAAs) that cover all the counties in the state, Ski for Heat is now a statewide event and is now open to alpine and snowboarders in addition to cross-country skiers and snowshoers. The goal is to make Ski for Heat accessible so that more people can participate and more people can benefit.

What started out as a “grassroots” (or “snowbank,” perhaps!) idea by one individual has grown into a much-anticipated annual fundraiser, thanks to the support and participation of so many community-minded individuals and businesses in the area. Since its inception, Ski for Heat has raised a quarter of a million dollars for fuel assistance.

Awards and Recognitions

eTown National E-Chievement Award—Recognizes people around the country who have found positive solutions to challenges in their communities.

Governor’s Award for Outstanding Community Service—Honors individuals, groups, and businesses that best exemplify the spirit of volunteerism and community service in Vermont.

Vermont State Legislature 2010—Resolution honoring Ski for Heat founder Martha Robertson on the event’s 10th anniversary.