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News Releases : Upcoming Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth raising critical utility assistance funds to meet growing need in our community
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Omaha Public Power District and Metropolitan Utilities District are teaming up, once again, for the 17th annual Heat the Streets Run & Walk for Warmth. Funds raised provide utility bill assistance for customers going through hard financial times.

Registration is open at The event will take place Saturday, March 2 at Zone 6 in Aksarben Village, 1911 S. 67th St. in Omaha.

The utilities host the run and walk during the winter to bring added attention to the struggle that so many face to keep their homes warm and keep lights on. However, our customers’ need is year-round. Unexpected events like a hospital stay or car repairs are a real hardship for those living paycheck to paycheck. Sometimes, a small financial boost can make all the difference.

“Fundraising is important because as the economy changes, so does household economics,” said Fratina McCraney, Training and Quality manager for United Way 211, one of the agencies that partners with the utilities to connect customers with assistance. “Families that may not have needed help before need it now,” she said.

McCraney said her agency is receiving an increasing number of requests for help paying utility bills – from 16,106 in 2022 to 18,987 in 2023.

“We hear stories daily from older consumers feeling the pinch of the high cost of living,” said Mary Ann Eusebio, division director of Information and Assistance for the Eastern Nebraska Office on Aging, which also partners with the utilities. “The struggle on an extremely fixed income is real.”

She said utility assistance funds have been an incredible help for their clients so they don’t have to choose between keeping the lights and heat on or “purchasing other much-needed items like groceries, medications, and other basic needs.”

Jill Lynch-Sosa, executive director of St. Vincent de Paul Omaha, said local utility assistance programs and the utilities’ fundraising efforts are “absolutely critical to our community.”

She said 100% of the families and individuals served by the Society of St. Vincent de Paul (SSVP) are facing a financial crisis and invariably get behind on paying their utility bills.

The agencies and utilities noted that donations are especially critical right now due to a decrease in federal funding allotted to programs that help with utility bill assistance.

Funds raised are administered by Dollar Energy Fund Inc., a registered 501(c)(3), and then split between M.U.D.’s Home Fund and OPPD’s Energy Assistance Program to provide assistance to our customers living in Burt, Cass, Colfax, Dodge, Douglas, Johnson, Nemaha, Otoe, Pawnee, Richardson, Sarpy, Saunders, and Washington counties.

Last year’s event raised $138,081. These funds helped M.U.D.’s Home Fund distribute $280,389 in billing assistance to 790 households in need this past year. OPPD’s Energy Assistance Program was able to distribute $319,987 in funding to 937 households in need. 

This year’s co-chairs are Jim Begley, vice chair of the M.U.D. Board of Directors, and his wife, Rebecca, and Matt Core, a member of the OPPD Board of Directors, and his wife, Katy. Their goal is to register 1,000 participants and raise at least $300,000.

Participation options, including a new 10K distance, and prices follow.

Timed 10K

  • $40 (through March 1)
  • $50 (day-of registration)

Timed 5K

  • $35 (through March 1)
  • $45 (day-of registration)

Untimed one-mile walk 

Children 12 and under may register for free with a registered adult.

  • $30 (through March 1)
  • $40 (day-of registration)

Virtual run/walk (No swag/giveaways will be given to virtual registrants.)

Participants may complete a distance of their choice on the path of their choice.

  • $35 (through March 1)

Awards will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place male and female runners in each of the following age divisions for the timed 5K and 10K events: 12 and under, 13-19, 20-29, 30-39, 40-49, 50-59, 60-69, 70+. (No awards for virtual participants.)

Both utilities urge customers to call if they’re worried about being able to pay their bills, so they can work through their options. OPPD customers can call 402-536-4131 in the Omaha area or toll-free at 877-536-4131. M.U.D. customers should call 402-554-6666.