2013-05-31 / Business

H.B. Fuel Fund helps families

By Alex Acquisto
Staff Writer


Helen Thorgalsen of H.B. Provisions will participate in Ragbrai — the famous bike race across Iowa — in an effort to raise funds for H.B. Fuel Fund, a fuel assistance program that Bonnie Clement, owner of H.P. Provisions, started four years ago to help those in need pay heating bills. “No one should have to worry about being cold in the wintertime,” said Thorgalsen. (Alex Acquisto photo) Helen Thorgalsen of H.B. Provisions will participate in Ragbrai — the famous bike race across Iowa — in an effort to raise funds for H.B. Fuel Fund, a fuel assistance program that Bonnie Clement, owner of H.P. Provisions, started four years ago to help those in need pay heating bills. “No one should have to worry about being cold in the wintertime,” said Thorgalsen. (Alex Acquisto photo) KENNEBUNK — Bonnie Clement and Helen Thorgalsen, who opened H.B. Provisions in 2002, believe in giving back to the community.

Four years ago they started a fuel assistance program, simply named H.B. Fuel Fund. The funds were donated by the community for residents in Kennebunk, Kennebunkport and Arundel who were having trouble paying their heating bill and weren’t already on some sort of fuel assistance.

“When I was a kid my mom had to go to the town for fuel money,” said Clement who is from Connecticut. “She told me, ‘Sometimes you have to put your pride in the back seat.’ That has always stuck with me,” Clement said.

Nearly $9,000 has been collected in total since the program started. “We’ll typically get between $20 and $30 a day, which is a lot,” said Clement. “Since June of last year we’ve already raised $5,000.”

Clement and Thorgalsen take the money given by the community to nearby gas companies such as Downeast Energy or Branch Brook fuels. They kindly ask that the companies deposit $200 anonymously to those who need it and who are receiving minimal fuel assistance.

“We don’t know who they are, and it doesn’t really matter,” said Thorgalsen. “I don’t like the idea of someone dreading winter because they can’t stay warm. No one should have to worry about the cold like that.”

Thorgalsen, a long-distance bicyclist who rides for sport, decided recently not only to participate in Ragbrai — the 460-mile ride from west to east across Iowa, from the Missouri River to the Mississippi River — she decided to use her ride as an opportunity to raise funds for the H.B. Fuel Fund. The race begins Sunday, July 21 and ends Saturday, July 27.

Ragbrai is the longest, largest and oldest bicycle race in the world. It began in the 1970s with two riders and has since grown to 8,500. Approximately 1,500 people will bike a portion of the race without finishing.

The race takes seven days, typically, to complete. At night the riders camp out in hordes at various spots along the way. Thorgalsen is participating in the race with a friend, who also races the Iditarod dog sled race.

“I would be exhilarated to raise $10,000 for H.B. Fuel Funds,” said Thorgalsen. Their team name is “Winter Chicks,” as they are both raising money for winter-related causes.

“Fundraising for this gives me more of a reason to complete this race than just getting on my bike,” said Thorgalsen. “And it’s really great to know that I’ll be riding for that cause.”

Thorgalsen’s reasons for riding also correlate with her mission as a counselor. “My passion is to really make a difference in people’s lives,” she said.

“You know, collecting donations for the community like this is almost too easy. We just put a jar on our counter and people put money in it. But it means so much,” said Clement.

“And if we can help people keep warm so that they can have joy when the winter comes, that’s what we want to do,” said Thorgalsen.

There will soon be a link on the H.B.Provisions website to donate or sponsor Thorgalsen as she continues to prepare for Ragbrai. Donations can also be made in H.B. Provisions on Western Avenue in lower Kennebunk.

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