Massachusetts Good Neighbor Energy Fund is appealing to local residents for a donation to the Fund's 2012-2013 "Give the Gift of Warmth" campaign.

The Salvation Army, Good Neighbor Energy Fund administrator, is seeing a heightened demand due to colder temperatures and a sluggish economy, while taking in fewer dollars than last year.

The 28th annual campaign is a cooperative effort among the state's energy companies, the general public and The Salvation Army to provide energy assistance to those Massachusetts households which, because of temporary financial difficulty, cannot meet a month's energy expense and are not eligible for state or federal energy assistance funds. The Good Neighbor campaign's 2012-13 goal is to raise $650,000 and help more than 2,000 households.

"The colder temperatures we're experiencing as we enter the dead of winter, in combination with the slowly recovering economy and high costs of living, are generating an increase in the number of inquiries by those in need of energy assistance," said Major David Kelly of The Salvation Army. "We appeal to the giving spirit of all our neighbors in the state, and ask that you consider enclosing a donation of any amount with the green envelopes found in your utility bills."

The Fund is often the last resort for families that have not qualified for federal and state assistance programs. To qualify for assistance from the Fund, an applicant's gross household income must fall between 60 and 80 percent of the state's median income levels. For example, a household size of 2 would need a total gross yearly income of $40,893 to $54,524 to qualify. A household of four would need to have a yearly income between $60,137 and $80,182 to qualify, etc. This year's Fund disbursement is $350 per eligible household, per heating season.

"Twenty-five utilities in the commonwealth, including Unitil, support the Fund through various matching and giving programs," said Sue Corson, customer assistance program coordinator for Unitil. "But the generosity of all our energy customers is the key to keeping our neighbors in need warm this year."

Massachusetts residents who wish to support the Fund may "Give the Gift of Warmth" by using the mint-colored Good Neighbor Energy Fund donation envelope found as an insert in monthly energy bills or through the 'add a dollar' program some energy companies offer, allowing customers to contribute a dollar or more on their monthly bill payment. Anyone may also donate online, with a credit card, by visiting www.magoodneighbor.org and checking the appropriate box, or by calling 1-800-SAL-ARMY. Donors also may simply mail a check payable to "The Good Neighbor Energy Fund" to The Salvation Army, 25 Shawmut Road, Canton, Massachusetts, 02021-1408. Participating energy companies support their respective customers' generosity through various giving programs

For more information on the Fund and how to apply, visit the local Salvation Army Service Center, or call (800) 262-1320 if you live in area code 413, or (800) 334-3047 if you live in area codes 508, 617, 781 or 978. Web: www.magoodneighbor.org.