Amid the ongoing pandemic and a challenging economy, more and more Omaha Public Power District and Metropolitan Utilities District customers are seeking help with their utility bills.
That makes the 15th annual Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth, a fundraiser for utility assistance programs, more crucial than ever. Our customers’ need is year-round. However, OPPD and M.U.D. host this event during the cold winter months to bring added attention to those struggling to keep their homes safe and warm.
The event takes place March 5 in Zone 6 at Aksarben Village, 1911 S. 67th St. in Omaha, beginning at 9 a.m. Participants may also join the cause virtually. Visit HeatTheStreetsOmaha.com to register. There’s also an option of donating to the cause, without completing the run or walk.
This year’s co-chairs are M.U.D. Director Jim Begley, alongside his wife, Rebecca, and OPPD Director Craig Moody, alongside his wife, Emily.
“This event represents our commitment to providing utility assistance to those who need it most,” said Begley. “We’ve seen in the last couple of years, there is a need. And it’s been exacerbated by COVID. We are going to do anything we can to help.”
Last year, Heat the Streets raised $103,000 for utility assistance programs. With the increasing need, OPPD and M.U.D. are hoping to raise $300,000 this year.
“We have a number of customers reaching out for help with their bills who’ve never been in this position before,” said Moody. “We don’t want our customers to have to choose between keeping their utilities on and getting groceries or prescriptions.”
Both utilities urge any customers who are struggling with their bills to call their customer service representatives and talk through their options. For OPPD, that number is 402-536-4131 in the Omaha area. Outside of the metro, customers may call toll-free at 877-536-4131. M.U.D. customers should call 402-554-6666.
Funds raised through Heat the Streets are administered by Dollar Energy Fund, a registered 501(c)(3) nonprofit that serves low-income utility customers. Funds are equally distributed between M.U.D.’s Home Fund and OPPD’s Energy Assistance Program to provide local assistance to those in need. Dollar Energy works with 26 local entities throughout the utilities’ service territories to provide this financial assistance for utility bills to our neighbors in need.
Participants may choose between a 5k run and a 1-mile walk, starting just outside Aksarben’s Inner Rail Food Hall. The run begins at 9 a.m., and the walk will immediately follow. Or, they may participate virtually and run or walk a path of their own choosing.
5K, in-person or virtual cost:
- $35 (through March 1 for in-person participants, or March 5 for virtual participants)
One-mile walk, in-person or virtual cost:
- $25 (through March 1 for in-person participants, or March 5 for virtual participants)
- Children 12 and under receive free registration with a paid adult.
The first 200 registrants will receive a commemorative 15th anniversary event shirt. Awards will be distributed at the in-person 5k to the first-, second- and third-place male and female runners in each of the following age divisions:
- 12 and under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, and 60+
While the 2022 Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth is scheduled to be in-person, the event planning team is monitoring local and state guidelines as they relate to the coronavirus pandemic. If this becomes a virtual event, awards will not be given out. Any status updates will be posted at HeatTheStreetsOmaha.com, as well as the event’s Facebook page, as needed.