SPOKANE, Wash. - Temperatures have many running to turn up their thermostat, but for thousands of Spokane County families, turning on the heat is something they can't afford.
SNAP is now ready to offer energy assistance grants to families struggling to stay warm this winter. For about a week, employees have been visiting community centers in the area to get people the heating help they need.
"It's a great program for people that are in need that have rough times in their lives and it's good to be there for support," said Thomas Buxbury, a SNAP client who visited the Millwood Community Center on Wednesday.
Dozens trickled into that same community center to get energy assistance early.
"Folks from the community, from all over Spokane County can get their energy assistance program done and then we're able to process grants right away," said SNAP Energy Supervisor Joe Reilly.
Those grants will help families from freezing in their own homes. Thousands will rely on SNAP this winter. The organization can help a family heat their home no matter where that heat comes from.
"We can serve people regardless of what their heating source is. So, it could be electric, gas, oil, wood, propane, we can serve any heating source," Reilly said.
In previous years the only way someone could receive heating assistance was by calling SNAP or applying online. Instead, Wednesday, clients could speak to someone face-to-face and get everything squared away.
"I like the way they're doing it instead of having to call on the phone, cause it takes forever to get through sometimes. This is a lot faster process," Buxbury said.
Starting Thursday, anyone can apply through a phone call or on the SNAP website. To schedule an appointment, or to see if you qualify for energy assistance, visit snapwa.org and click on the income guidelines.
If you would rather get the appointment out of the way, SNAP will hold one more round of drop-in appointments at the Millwood Community Center Thursday. You can visit anytime between 8 a.m. and 12 p.m.