These success stories show the value of communities coming together to help those in need.
Firewood Banks from 19 different states, delivering a median number of 75 cords per year and an average of 206 cords, have received grant funding. Each bank comes with its own story of service and commitment to creating a more sustainable community right at home with nearly all of the banks being run by volunteer staff.
In FY 2023, $590,077 was distributed to 47 firewood banks.
private business with non-profit arm
Castine Wood Bank
Cords Per Year: 15
Funding: $10, 179
Gill Tenney of Castine, Maine reported that the their wood bank was launched after reading “A Community Guide to Starting and Running a Wood Bank” co-authored by Jessica Leahy, professor of forestry at the University of Maine. He gathered some people and together they “agreed to give it a whirl.” The town generously agreed to let them locate their firewood bank at the transfer station. Their biggest barrier is transportation. The grant allowed them to purchase a new splitter (Wallenstein WX540L) and put up a prefab shed to help keep dried wood out of Maine’s winter weather.
Cords Per Year: 40
Firewood For Families, a ministry program run by Chesapeake Church, has provided free firewood to families in the community for over 20 years. Events are volunteer run and distribute approximately 50 cords of wood each winter to approximately 60 families a year. The funding received provided necessary tools and supplies to ensure volunteer safety while chopping and distributing wood. Families served have no other source of heat other than firewood and the funding helped Firewood For Families ensure ongoing delivery to our participants.
Chippewa Cree Tribe Senior Firewood Program
Box Elder, Montana
Cords Per Year: 1,500
Winters are long in northern Montana, and the Chippewa Tribe Cree’s Senior Firewood Program is focused on supporting their more than 300 elderly households, many of whom rely solely on wood to stay warm. For the last four years, a crew of tribal employees hired to fight fire in the summer season, switches over to begin gathering and processing firewood in September, after fire season. The crew processes 1500 cords of wood annually from forested areas around the reservation and from logs provided by local logging contractors.
Matt Meccariello, a Bishop in the Church of Latter Day Saints explains that the Christian Firewood Bank is part of the Church’s mission of service. Because of the beetle infestation, there are ample supplies of dead spruce and fir trees. A USFS permit allows Christian Firewood to harvest the smaller, standing dead trees. Each month approximately 50-75 youth donate 2 hours of service, splitting, stacking and distributing firewood to families in need. Before the grant, the Utah firewood bank used a 6 lb maul with a splitting head to process the wood. The grant provided new chain saws and safety equipment which will allow them to safely process more firewood.
Collective Medicine is a non-profit that was started in 2020 during COVID to help the Navajo people. They began with a water-access program they call, “Water Warriors” because 54,000 people (one third of Navajo Nation residents) were without running water. In addition to water, wood was one of the top requests from their people. Collective Medicine saw that wood heat was a basic need and launched its firewood program in 2021. In addition to adding new chain saws and a drying shed, the grant allowed Collective Medicine to purchase welding equipment. The roads are rough there and the equipment will allow them to reinforce trailers and makeequipment repair.
Cumberland Center, Maine
Cords Per Year: 40
The Cumberland Wood Bank, a program of the Congregational Church, is a volunteer run non-profit focused on providing heating assistance. Their mission statement is, “No one should have to choose between heating and eating.” One of the reasons the firewood bank started in 2007, was a concern that so much wood was being thrown into the landfill. They launched the wood bank to redirect wood toward helping provide heat to people in need. After 15 years of woodbank operation, the goal of their grant was to allow them to replace worn out equipment. This winter Cumberland is planning a Wood Bank Roundtable and hope to get more municipalities involved and additional firewood banks launched.
Crestone Energy Exchange (CEX)
Cords Per Year: 20
Crestone Energy Exchange is an energy business incubator started by Donovan Spitzman. Donovan was inspired to create a for-profit firewood company after learning that a local non-profit, Neighbors in Need was spending $7-8000 a year buying firewood for people who were cold. Today Crestone Energy Exchange sources wood and organizes and trains volunteers and workers to process firewood and make deliveries. They are working to get a firewood contract from the USFS District Office that will allow them to take out small, standing dead wood and help reduce wildfire risk. Because of the pine beetle epidemic, the number of standing dead trees has increased by almost 30% in Colorado. Crestone is located in a “wildland-urban interface,” an area where wildfires are particularly hazardous.
Downeast Wood Bank
Blue Hill, Maine
Cords Per Year: 15
The Downeast Wood Bank is a volunteer group that operates with a 5 person volunteer board. About two years ago, they began to partner with the Blue Hill Heritage Trust, a 501(c)3 in Blue Hill, Maine. The Trust owned property, and offered Downeast Wood bank a site to process their firewood. They served as the fiscal agent for this year’s firewood grant. Before the grant, Downeast volunteers used all their own equipment and processed everything by hand. The grant has allowed them to purchase two new chainsaws and a high quality splitter. They are also planning to buy materials and build a shed for better drying.
Episcopal Church of the Transfiguration
Bat Cave, North Carolina
Cords Per Year: 15
The Church of Transfiguration, located in Bat Cave, NC, about 25 miles from Asheville is part of a 500 acre conservancy and retreat center created by Episcopalian sisters in the late 1800’s. Located in one of the poorest counties in the state, the church began its Firewood Ministry, their “most important ministry” to support those families relying on wood heating. Today the church has over 14 volunteers and work in partnership with Hickory Nut Gorge outreach, a non-profit dedicated to providing food and other emergency services to community members in need. The church says they have plenty of wood, but the grant allowed them to purchase better equipment and to put up a shed to allow them to cure more wood.
The community’s firewood bank, is located about one mile outside of Sheridan, Montana, a small town (700 population) known as the “heart of the Ruby Valley.” A local rancher generously donated about an acre of ground to the firewood bank “in perpetuity," where wood is processed and stored. The volunteers at the Ruby Valley firewood bank work 2-3 days a week to keep up with the need. Logs are purchased from a local supplier and the wood bank processes over 120 cords of wood. A simple financial screening process is used to determine eligibility but no one is turned away if they are in need. According to Frank Ford, the Ruby Valley’s Executive Director, “if someone is in need, or if they got hurt or are sick, we take care of them.”
South Egremont, Massachusetts
Cords Per Year: 14
Greenagers is a non-profit that was started to help get youth out into the outdoor landscape. They provide training in farming, forestry and other environmental skills. To them, the firewood bank is great for building skills and teaching public service. The students learn how to safely use a chain saw and splitter. They have a small, mobile sawmill and also learn how to use a tractor and drive a dump truck. According to Farm Manager Sarah Monteiro, “hands down the wood chores are one of the favorite tasks. I think because it's instantly gratifying.”
Hinton Rural Life Center
Hayesville, North Carolina
Cords Per Year: 385
Hinton Rural Life Center is a Christian retreat center located in southern Appalachia. Their community outreach efforts led them to see that one of the barriers to people accessing stable housing is poor credit scores due to unpaid heat bills. In 2013, Hinton decided to start a firewood ministry to provide heating to community members in need. The ministry has grown tremendously. On “Firewood Wednesdays” in colder months, Hinton volunteers or
“woodchuckers” are in the wood lot processing and loading wood for those who physically and/or financially need support. Last year Hinton’s “woodchuckers” processed 385 cords of wood for 205 families.
H.O.M.E. Inc. Wood Bank
Cords Per Year: 20
Winters are hard for fishermen, farmers and other seasonal workers in rural Maine. In 1970, after witnessing people living in their cars, Carmelite Sister Lucy Poulin, began Project H.O.M.E. (Homeworkers Organized for More Employment (H.O.M.E.). Her vision initially was a homeless shelter that supported cooperative crafting (knitting, sewing etc) as a means for low income rural community members to earn extra income. H.O.M.E. began building and repairing simple houses, sided and shingled with wood and heated by wood stoves. Their firewood bank was born out of their housing effort. Today Project H.O.M.E. uses a low barrier application and provides one cord of wood each season for families.
K of C 13452 Wood for Warmth Project
Cords Per Year: 50
Dave Rupp introduced the idea of the Wood for Warmth Project about ten years ago when he had leftover wood he was not going to use. Instead of wasting the fuel source, he devised a program to help his community. He describes the project as a “labor of love,” emphasizing that it is not their place to judge those they help or question how people got in their situation. Delivering firewood to homes is described as an emotional experience and continues to fuel the effort to keep Wood for Warmth working to serve their community.
Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners
New London, New Hampshire
Cords Per Year: 24
Kearsarge Neighborhood Partners is an inclusive and supportive community network that strives to empower people to achieve stability. A part of this support network is making sure their neighbors are kept warm in the cold months. Their firewood program is in place to provide firewood for those experiencing heating emergencies.
Second Mesa, Arizona
Cords Per Year: 100
Koho4Hopi is a non-profit that was started by Matt Honanie and his wife to help the Hopi people. The Kayenta Coal Mine had recently closed and people didn’t have a reliable source of energy to heat their homes. Today they are partners in Wood for Life, a partnership that uses wood from forest restoration efforts to fuel indigenous communities that rely on firewood to heat their homes. Prior to the grant, the biggest issue for Koho4Hopi was how to move wood more efficiently. The grant has allowed them to purchase a trailer for hauling. They estimate this year they will process 100 cords of wood and help 250 households.
Kootznoowoo, Inc. Firewood Program
Cords Per Year: 100
The tribal lands of Kootznoowoo, “fortress of the brown bears” are located on the 80 mile long Admiralty Island, a remote area approximately 60 miles southwest of Juneau. The area has the highest population of grizzlies in the world. The firewood program began at the request of the community of Angoon (population 450) to provide tribal elders and house bound households with heating fuel. Located in the Alaskan rain forest, the area is dominated by western hemlock, sitka spruce and western red cedar. The community of Angoon donates the wood (all down trees mostly from beetle infested wood). The wood lot is overseen by an on-sight manager who trains the crew, signs out equipment and oversees the safety of the wood lot.
Montague Wood Bank
Turner Falls, Massachusetts
Cords Per Year: 14
The Montague Firewood Bank began in 2018 through the efforts of the Montague Tree Advisory Committee, a town appointed committee that helps steward the town’s shade trees. Tree Advisory Committee members coordinate volunteer work dates and help provide much of the labor. The Committee partners with Montague’s Senior Center, who play an important administrative role, overseeing the wood vouchers that are distributed to eligible households. The Town’s firewood bank processes 14 cords of wood annually and supports 28 familes.
Nez Perce Tribe Supplemental Firewood Program
Cords Per Year: 500
The Nez Perce Senior Citizen’s Firewood Program, managed through the Nez Perce Forestry and Fire Management Division, provides firewood to senior citizens, elders, and other eligible participants within their community. On average, they deliver 500 cords of wood a year to 250 homes.
North Idaho Firewood Rescue
Cords Per Year: 49
The North Idaho Firewood bank purposefully named itself the North Idaho Firewood Rescue because their goal was to “rescue people who were cold and in dire need of firewood.” Sagle, Idaho had a firewood program for veterans, and the North Idaho Firewood Rescue program began to help support the general public with wood heating assistance. They became a nonprofit in 2019. At the beginning of 2022 they had approximately 140 cords of wood split, stacked and covered with tarps. However, tarps are difficult to use in the snow, ice and wind of northern Idaho, and the grant will allow the Firewood Rescue to put up a drying shed.
Northwest Wood Heat
Cords Per Year: 12
The Northwest Wood Heat is located in Vernonia, a rural logging town located in northwest Oregon. Lewis Cochrane started the firewood bank, now a nonprofit, because he noticed many people couldn’t afford electric heating (electric rates are among the highest in the country) and because many in town heat with wood. The firewood bank provides firewood to low income families, seniors, veterans and the disabled. Last year they processed 12 cords of wood and in 2023 with the help of the grant, have plans to expand. Lewis plans to reach out to the localmotorcycle and 4 wheelers clubs for additional help with splitting and stacking wood.
The Ogalala Lakota Cultural and Economic Revitalization Initiative (OLCERI) is a 501 (c)(3) that focuses on local community self-sufficiency. They have been in operation for 16 years. They have a large bunking area (including a sawmill on site) and take logs (insect or fire killed trees) by the semi-load, harvested from forests on the reservation. Last year, OLCERI processed 4oo cords of firewood, and prioritizes delivery to elders and disabled people first, then to single parent households. OLCERI has a drying shed that holds 14 cords and uses plastic liquid totes (each holds ½ cord of wood) that can double as delivery boxes. OLCERI cuts out the bladder and uses it as a roof, helping keep the wooddry.
Petersham Community Wood Bank
Cords Per Year: 16
Located in a small town of around 1,200 people, the Petersham Community Wood Bank is made possible by the Petersham Forest and Shade Tree Committee, the Department of Conservation and Recreation, and a core group of six volunteers. They provide wood to about 25 households per year and have been serving their community for nine years.
Pikunivi Wood Haulers
Second Mesa, Arizona
Cords Per Year: 91
The Pikunivi Wood Haulers (PKH) began distributing wood in the fall of 1997 as a for-profit business. In 2019, they partnered with Chizh for Cheiis, a grassroots organization, to help provide free firewood for high risk elders on the Navajo nation. Last year PKH worked with Red Feather, a non-profit organization to provide 91 cords of firewood to 183 families in need through its Hopi emergency firewood program. PVH is doing important work. According to PKH owner Charleston Lewis, “I’ve been inside some of these houses, some are very poor; there are busted windows, no insulation. It’s very sad when you go to some houses and see they are burning furniture or even old shoes. People are very thankful for the wood.”
Rural Organizing and Resilience (R.O.A.R.)
Marshall, North Carolina
Cords Per Year: 11
Funding: $10, 341
R.O.A.R. is a grassroots organization located in northcentral North Carolina, that focuses on the food, housing, and other community needs. The Firewood Initiative began in 2018 after R.O.A.R. noticed that many residents in their county were cold because they could not afford firewood. Many of these folks were physically limited and unable to cut their own firewood. R.O.A.R. began holding monthly work parties where volunteers could come together to split, stack, and distribute firewood. According to R.O.A.R.S. Whitney Mitchell, “volunteerism has grown organically since our first winter as it has become a meaningful way for folks to get together outside to share food, work, and camaraderie in the winter months.” Firewood typically comes from landowners’ trees that have fallen or been cut down due to storms or disease. Every household in the program, receives a pick-up truck load of firewood; no one is turned away.
Salamatof Native Association &
Salamatof Forestry and Fire
Cords Per Year: 60
Funding: $14, 964
Salamatof Forestry and Fire is a registered Alaska business 100% owned and operated by Salamatof Native Association, Inc. (SNAI) which operates under a 9-member Board of Directors. They began delivering firewood in 2004. Today they deliver wood to the Kenaitze/Salamatof Fishery, Salamatof Tribal elders, Salamatof Elders, American Legion VFW veterans, Love Inc., and other persons in extreme need. Salamatof's firewood program is led by a
fire crew who do mitigation during the fire season, and process firewood during the winter season.
Shaan Seet, Inc.
Cords Per Year: 40
Shaan Seet is an Alaskan Native Village Corporation that serves Craig, Alaska, the largest town (pop. 1036) on Prince of Wales Island. Established under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act, Shaan Seet’s mission is to develop economic opportunities for their community while perpetuating their native culture. In this part of Alaska, wood is the only source of heat for many households and Shaan Seet began providing firewood in 2022 to about 100 households, prioritizing wood for elders. Prior to this year’s grant Shaan Seet had rented a splitter. The grant allowed them to purchase their own splitter, a chainsaw, and safety equipment for their crew.
United Keetoowah Band Wood Recycling Program
Cords Per Year: 150
The United Keetoowah Band (UKB) Wood Recycling Program started during the pandemic, processing down trees and recycling them into firewood for elders and tribal citizens. The program receives phone calls and emails from tribal citizens with downed trees. The woodcutting crew bucks and splits up the tree into firewood at no cost. Tribal Council members also contact the firewood program on behalf of constituents who are in need. UKB supports 50 household with a cord of firewood.
United Way of Lamoille County Firewood Project
Cords Per Year: 60
This wood bank is unique because it also gets some state funding via the Vermont Department of Children and Families to purchase wood in log length and serve families who qualify for Low Income Heating Assistance. Vermont understands that the wood heating community is not fully served by the state program and asked United Way of Lamoille County to help fill the gap. As a result, they have to ensure recipients meet income limits. Our funding will help buy more splitters so that they can make better use of their volunteers. UWLC also partners with the VT Department of Forests, Parks and Recreation. The State donates log length wood from trees harvested on state land around Lamoille County (approximately the equivalent to 60 cords of firewood).
Wood for Life - Chinle Chapter Government
Cords Per Year: 500
Funding: $14, 254
Nestled within the larger Navajo chapter, the Chinle Wood for Life delivers 500 cords per year to 500 homes. Many of these homes belong to tribal elders. The funding received will go towards securing the future of the firewood bank to serve existing participants and increase the tool inventory of the program.