Public health concerns prompt pause of 16-year fundraiser for emergency heating assistance
Vermont Business Magazine Wheels for Warmth, a program that helps keep Vermonters safe on the roads and warm in their homes, announced today it is suspending its 16th annual tire recycle and resale event out of respect for public safety in the face of COVID-19.
Program officials have determined the Wheels for Warmth sales where hundreds have congregated in years past to find affordable tires are not possible at this stage of fighting the pandemic.
“It’s a painful decision to suspend the program, but we’ve spent months looking at every option and there’s no way for us to safely get tires to the people who need them the most,” said Wheels for Warmth volunteer, Richard Wobby, Jr. “This year the world faces a once-in-a-lifetime global public safety crisis, and we are always committed to doing what’s best for our most vulnerable Vermonters and for our state. By next year, we’ll find a way to be back.”
Since Governor Phil Scott founded the program in 2005, Wheels for Warmth has raised $558,000 for heating assistance programs at community action agencies throughout Vermont. Over that period, the program has sold nearly 23,000 safe, inspected tires and recycled more than 38,000 tires, decreasing the number of unused tires that might have otherwise ended up in Vermont’s rivers and along roadways.
With the 2020 sales canceled, agencies like Capstone Community Action, Champlain Valley Office of Economic Opportunity in Northwestern Vermont (CVOEO) and BROC Community Action will lose up to $20,000 each in emergency heating assistance donations.
“On behalf of the entire Wheels for Warmth team, I ask everyone to remember your neighbors, and give what you can to your local community action agencies,” Wobby said. “Nobody should be cold in their homes during our long winters, and it’s up to us to make sure emergency heating assistance programs can keep people warm and safe through the season.”
The Wheels for Warmth program is made possible by partners including: Casella Waste Systems, Vianor Tire, WDEV/Radio Vermont Group, VSECU (Vermont State Employees Credit Union), Jet Service Envelope/Accura Printing, AT&T, Energy, Lenny’s Shoe & Apparel, the Rutland Herald, the Barre-Montpelier Times Argus, VELCO, Associated General Contractors, Dubois Construction, Casella Construction, Inc., Newton Construction, Village Grocery, Dick Mazza’s Store, Bigras Auto, Maplewood LTD, OMYA, Capitol Grounds, McKenzie Country Classics, 1230 WJOY, 98.9 WOKO, KOOL 105, Norwich University, Vermont Department of Motor Vehicles, ADA Traffic Control, and WorkSafe.
Source: Middlesex, Vt. – Wheels for Warmth 9.24.2020