In this photo taken Wednesday Jan. 8, 2014, stacks of wood are seen at the town transfer station in Hopkinton, N.H. Like a food bank, several communities in northern New England run by church groups, social services agencies and towns, have set up wood piles for needy residents to get wood through the cold winters. (AP Photo/Jim Cole)
CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — In a wintertime take on food pantries, some northern New England communities are helping needy families stock their woodstoves instead of their shelves.
Just 2 percent of homes nationwide are heated with wood, but that percentage is four times higher in New Hampshire, more than six times higher in Maine and nearly nine times higher in Vermont, according to 2012 census estimates.
While benefits obtained through the federal Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program can be used to purchase wood, community wood banks run by church groups, social service agencies and towns help those who don’t qualify or find themselves in a midwinter emergency and don’t have time for the application process.
“It’s wonderful that we have the fuel assistance program, but that’s a service you need to apply for ahead of time, and oftentimes, there are situations out of a person’s control,” said Kristen Vance, executive director of Grapevine Family and Community Resource Center in Antrim.
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