PADUCAH, Ky. (WSIL) -- A couple of concerned Paducah residents teamed up to help local power customers avoid costly disconnect fees and keep the lights on.
"It's become a thing in the past month," Sara Evitts said.
Evitts said she used her stimulus check in March to help fund the impromptu philanthropy that amounted to hundreds of dollars for more than a dozen power households - which may have prevented thousands in connection fees.
Evitts tells News 3 it all started when she was talking to a Paducah Power System customer service person about a missed bill for herself when she decided to donate to others who may be in-need.
"I asked, 'Who's close to having their power cutoff?' She said, 'all of these pay as you go customers. I said, 'let's do this."
That first conversation, Evitts said, she paid for five Paducah residents to avoid a shutoff for about $100.
She said she felt so good after the call it was time to get organized with others including Paducah resident Nate Crawford to help more.
"My husband and I have always been taught to fill in the gaps and help the most people that we can in the most ways that helps them best," Evitts said. "I just see how great Paducah, Kentucky is. It's my home town even though I was born in Henderson, KY. These are the people falling through the cracks."
Andrea Underwood, Director of Human Resources & Community Relations for Paducah Power System tells News 3 the pair is now contributing regularly.
"They’ve been contacting us almost daily to pay on the accounts of Paygo customers who are scheduled for disconnection that day," Underwood said.
Because of the way the program is set up, a person can pay a very small amount on each account and keep those accounts “in the black”. Paygo accounts are only disconnected when their balance goes to zero.
Underwood said only a portion of the Paygo customers could be described as in need of help.
"It is very common for many Paygo customers to wait until the day their account is scheduled to hit “zero” to make a payment," Underwood said. "They aren’t necessarily struggling. That’s just their habit. And that’s one of the reasons we have that program. It gives people the flexibility to pay what they want when they want, and it’s a whole lot easier for some people to manage their account that way."
Underwood said many people have been generous this past year in helping customers keep their power on because of a desire to help with essential needs during the pandemic.
In December $10,000 was raised for paid on accounts through the Giving Tree program where agencies identify those customers who need a little extra help.
"It’s been heartwarming to see it unfold in different ways, and we’re grateful for all of the people who have stepped forward and continue to do so to help people in their own community. This particular effort shows that kindness and generosity can be contagious, and that’s something I think we can all appreciate during these difficult times,” Underwood said.
Those in need of utility assistance have options. The power company suggests this list of providers:
West KY Allied Services
709 S. 22nd St., Apt 9
Family Service Society
827 Joe Clifton Dr.
Paducah Cooperative Ministry
402 Legion Dr.
3100 Irvin Cobb Dr.
St Vincent DePaul
2025 Cairo Rd.