Some families are one challenge away from crisis.

There’s the young family who fell behind on bills after dad fell off the roof and broke his back and their premature baby spent a month in intensive care.

There’s the grandmother who is trying to stretch her fixed monthly income of $750 after her daughter died, leaving behind an 11-year-old granddaughter to raise.

And there’s the single dad working to overcome physical disabilities while raising two sons.

These families needed a hero – and thanks to TEP customers, they found one.

TEP’s HEERO program – the name stands for Help with Emergency Energy Relief Operation – invites customers to add a little to their monthly bill payment to help low-income families cover their energy costs. Thousands of customers have stepped up to help, providing local nonprofit groups with another way to assist families in need.

“We feel very blessed that we have this fund to help because it serves a population that would too often otherwise fall through the cracks,” said Nicole Cruz, lead case manager with the Salvation Army.

“These are often hard-working families who earn too much for nationwide utility assistance funds – sometimes even just a dollar over – but not enough to keep up with their bills if there’s an unexpected car repair for $1,000 or they’re sidelined by medical bills or other emergencies.”

TEP customers contributed more than $122,000 last year, simply by rounding up or designating a set dollar amount to help. In all, since 2011, our customers have contributed more than $1.3 million.

While the Salvation Army administers the fund, no contributions were used to administer the program. That means every penny contributed by customers goes to those who may need a little extra help to stay on top of their utility bills.

“It may seem like just a few pennies each month wouldn’t add up, but when it is multiplied by the number of others who also want to help out, it can really make a big difference for families in need,” said Denise Richerson, Director of Customer Service and Programs.

“This program is built on the premise of neighbors helping neighbors and it is inspiring to see how the community has responded.”

For more information on how you can participate, please visit https://beta.tep.com/heero/

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