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Catholic Charities appeals for funds as heating costs rise

.- Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Boston has stepped up its private appeals and announced a fundraising campaign to help lower-income families meet the cost of rising fuel prices.

Catholic Charities president Fr. J. Bryan Hehir told the Associated Press that he expects the number of people seeking assistance from Catholic Charities to surpass the 150,000 the agency helped last year, due largely to fuel costs.

Heating fuel prices are estimated to rise about 30 percent this winter, and Catholic Charities isn’t the only agency appealing to private donors. These agencies say the need is too urgent to hope for more money from the federal government, already funding a war and hurricane cleanup.

Yet, government has provided some relief. On Tuesday, the state Legislature agreed to assistance for some lower and middle-income households, including tax deductions up to $800 for winter heating bills, reported the AP.

Don Atwater, executive director of the Berkshire Community Action Agency in Pittsfield told the AP that his agency already has 1,000 first-time applicants for fuel assistance this year, equaling the total number for all of last year.

Atwater began his private appeal last month, securing $25,000 from the Northern Berkshire United Way and a $10,000 matching fund from the Hoosac Bank in North Adams. The agency's goal is $100,000 to $150,000.

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