With nearly 300,000 Connecticut households struggling to keep their homes warm, Operation Fuel's annual fundraising campaign is underway in an effort to assist as many families as possible.

"We are asking people to give whatever they can afford to help another household stay warm this winter. Many of our recipients are either elderly or working families with young children," Executive Director Patricia Wrice said.

A majority of the money that Operation Fuel raises will be used to provide emergency energy assistance to households that heat with oil and other deliverable fuels. Connecticut's Winter Protection Program applies only to utilities, not heating oil. Without help from Operation Fuel, many of these households will remain cold this winter, according to Wrice.

And although state law prohibits utility companies from turning off gas and electric services until May, by then many households will have accrued huge bills and will be faced with losing their utilities in the warmer months. During the winter many households, Wrice said, especially those with young children, sick and elderly people, supplement their heat by using portable electric heaters, which can be dangerous and drive up bills that will need to be paid in the spring.

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Individuals who need emergency energy assistance should call 2-1-1.

Donations can be sent to Operation Fuel, One Regency Drive, Suite 200, Bloomfield CT 06002 or made online at www.operationfuel.org.