Share the Warmth helps people keep the heat on Share the Warmth helps people keep the heat on

Share the Warmth helps people keep the heat on

How Piedmont Natural Gas customers in South Carolina, North Carolina and Tennessee can find help paying their utility bill


George Hester was not a man to ask for help. The Army veteran was accustomed to giving aid, not seeking it.

That changed when Hester’s active service ended and he returned to his hometown of Charlotte, N.C. He was a new dad, facing rent and utility bills he couldn’t pay. 

“It was a trying time,” he said, “and I knew I needed help.”

George Hester got help from Crisis Assistance Ministry. And now he's giving back.

That’s when Hester turned to Crisis Assistance Ministry.

The nonprofit assists people in financial crisis, helping with emergency rent and utility bills, clothing and other essentials. The goal is to be a resource for people struggling financially and give them the tools to become self-sufficient through a financial empowerment program.

The agency is supported by public and private contributions, including from Piedmont Natural Gas and the Duke Energy Foundation, which have distributed more than $5 million to Piedmont’s Share the Warmth program since 2003.

“We want to be in their lives for a brief moment in time,” Crisis Assistance Ministry CEO Carol Hardison said. “As soon as we’ve helped with a bill, that’s stopped a crisis. Then, we make sure you’ve got a plan for the future so that you can pay next month’s bill.”

Sometimes people reach out to Crisis Assistance Ministry as soon as they realize they won’t be able to pay an energy bill or their rent. More often though, they come with months of unpaid bills, on the verge of losing their services and/or housing. The average energy bill paid by Crisis Assistance Ministry in the last fiscal year totaled $240. Emergency rent assistance can add hundreds of dollars to that amount.

That’s where Piedmont Natural Gas, a business unit of Duke Energy, comes in. Through Share the Warmth, customers can round up their monthly bill to the nearest dollar, with the money going to agencies to help people pay their energy bills. That’s no more than $12 a year, to ensure people stay warm.

Crisis Assistance Ministry CEO Carol Hardison.

Eddie Davidson leads the program for Piedmont Natural Gas, calling it “an opportunity to make a small difference individually but a huge difference collectively for your neighbors.”

All of the round-up funds stay local, so donors know they are helping people in their communities.

Crisis Assistance Ministry helps 40,000 to 45,000 adults and children in Charlotte and the surrounding communities every year. Hardison said it’s hard to think of so many people being in need, “but you love to know that there’s a place they can go.”

Her agency and Piedmont Natural Gas have a “long, rich history of coming together.” The relationship is key to keeping people from experiencing financial hardship in the winter. Piedmont Natural Gas employees also volunteer, bringing their time and talent to Crisis Assistance.

Davidson said that kind of investment in the community is “a reflection of stewardship. The opportunity we have to serve our customers is something we don’t take lightly.”

And it allows Crisis Assistance Ministry to invest in people like George Hester. The agency’s financial empowerment program helped him develop the skills he needed to make a budget and prioritize his bills. “I learned to alter my perspective of my finances. Sometimes you have what you need – it just depends on how you allocate it.”

He pays his bills while his 9-year-old son does his homework. “I show him my bills are like Daddy’s homework. You’ve got to finish in a certain amount of time and pay your bills in a certain amount of time.”

Hester now volunteers as a customer advocate for Crisis Assistance Ministry, giving back to the people who gave him so much when he needed it. He said it’s an “obligation – to try to better it instead of just taking and taking. Because Crisis (Assistance Ministry) is always giving.”

How you can help

Share the Warmth helps your neighbors stay warm when they can’t afford to pay their energy bills, with help from Piedmont Natural Gas customers. Piedmont Natural Gas customers can register to round up their monthly bills:

  1. Click here to enroll.
  2. Complete the enrollment form on the back of your monthly bill and return it with your payment.
  3. Call 800.752.7504.
  4. Text SHARE to 21209.

Non-customers can mail a check to: Piedmont Natural Gas / Share the Warmth
Attention: Community Relations, 525 S. Tryon St., Charlotte, NC 28202.

Share the Warmth funds can be used to pay energy bills regardless of the energy source used in the home, including natural gas, propane, oil and electricity. Money is distributed to residents through assistance agencies. 

Need help with your energy bills?

Information: or 800.752.7504.

You can also contact your local Share the Warmth assistance agency.

North Carolina

South Carolina



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