Grand Rapids Mayor George Heartwell poses with children at the Community Action Partnership of Kent County's 2014 Walk for Warmth in Grand Rapids last year. (Photo: Community Action Partnership of Kent County)

Consumers Energy is encouraging the public this winter to take part in Walks for Warmth, which help raise money to keep Michigan families warm.

Consumers Energy is committed to helping people heat their homes, and is matching every dollar that employees, family and friends raise through more than 30 Walk for Warmth events across Michigan.

Last year, Consumers Energy and its employees raised more than $300,000 provided to Michigan households through the Michigan Community Action Agency network.

“Every dollar we raise will go toward helping our most vulnerable customers, including those who are elderly and disabled, and those who can’t afford to pay their heating bills,” said Patti Poppe, Consumers Energy’s vice president of customer experience, rates and regulation. “Together, our steps can help ensure that our neighbors have resources to stay warm in a time of need.”

Community Action Agencies statewide organize local Walk for Warmth events.

The money raised provides energy assistance for Michigan residents -- a priority for Consumers Energy, especially in winter.

Hundreds of Consumers Energy employees are taking part Friday in the Walk for Warmth event in Jackson, which will start inside company headquarters and extend through downtown Jackson. It is coordinated by the Community Action Agency of Jackson, Lenawee and Hillsdale.

Other Consumers Energy employees are bolstering Walk for Warmth events this month at locations across Michigan, including Grand Rapids, Zeeland, Lansing, Flint and Saginaw.

Community Action Partnership of Kent County's Walk for Warmth is Saturday (Feb. 21). Registration is at 8:30 a.m. Saturday and the one- and three-mile walks start at 9 a.m. at the Area Community Services Employment & Training Council (ACSET)'s West Side Complex, 215 Straight Street NW in Grand Rapids.

In Kent County, funds raised through the Walk for Warmth provide emergency heating assistance (propane, electricity, natural gas or wood)through the Utility Assistance Program. This year's goal is to raise $10,000, with sponsorship opportunities available.
The Community Action Agency of Ottawa County's 26th annual Walk for Warmth was Feb. 7 in Zeeland. It had more than 300 participants and has raised more than $15,500 to date, according to Mike Stock, Community Action Agency of Ottawa County spokesman.

Other upcoming Walks for Warmth include:

All Walk for Warmth events are open to the public.

As many as 25,000 Michigan households are getting help staying warm this winter and keeping the lights on with the aid of $9 million in contributions from Consumers Energy.

Consumers Energy is providing $4 million to The Salvation Army, Michigan Community Action, The Heat and Warmth Fund (THAW) and Fremont-based TrueNorth Community Services. In addition, the company is contributing an additional $5 million to its CARE program, which offers bill credits and access to energy efficiency upgrades.

Consumers Energy, Michigan’s largest utility, is the principal subsidiary of CMS Energy and provides natural gas and electricity to 6.6 million of the state’s 10 million residents in all 68 Lower Peninsula counties.