Utilities assistance drive raises $4k

Published on May 20, 2024

CommuniTREE on 4/30/2024

In April, the CommuniTREE in the Los Alamos County Municipal Building became a giving tree with leaves signifying contributions to the Utilities Assistance Program (UAP) run by the Los Alamos Department of Public Utilities (DPU). By the end of the month, the tree was fully green with leaves and donations totaled $4,000.

The tree is mounted on the wall of the ground floor across from the Customer Care Center (CCC). When patrons stopped by the CCC, they were invited to contribute to UAP, write their names on leaves, and hang those leaves on the tree. Sustaining monthly donations were recognized on paper lightbulbs in the hallway by the tree. Throughout the month, the number of sustaining donors grew by six to more than 70 total. These utility customers contribute an amount of their choosing every month, which ranges from $1 to $200, through a line item on their utility bills. The six new sustaining donors are contributing an additional $2,820 per year!

“Our UAP is such an impactful program for utility customers who have difficulties making ends meet,” said Utility Manager Philo Shelton. “It is funded entirely through voluntary contributions and we couldn’t be more thankful that we live in such a generous community. Last fall we worried that requests for assistance were outweighing contributions and when we put a call out to our customers and the community, folks really stepped up. We’ve continued fundraising efforts to ensure the program remains secure enough to assist anyone who qualifies.”

Los Alamos County and DPU cannot put money into the program per the State of New Mexico's anti-donation clause. The program provides seasonal monthly assistance to qualified, low-income residential customers, year-round assistance to customers aged 65 and older or other customers who are qualified through the Social Security Administration for Supplemental Security Income, and one-time assistance to utility account holders experiencing unforeseen hardships. More information on the program can be found at ladpu.com/assist. To add monthly contributions to UAP to your utility bill, please visit ladpu.com/Support.