The economic downturn and the rise in home heating oil prices are putting an unexpected squeeze on a firewood-selling program that supports The Open Hearth in Hartford.
"We may not be able to get enough raw lumber to meet the demand of our customers," said Muhammad Ansari, director of the organization's wood products division on Maxim Road, near Brainard Airport.
"The wood we process into firewood mainly comes from loggers who clear sites for development," Ansari said. "But the five or six loggers I usually deal with tell me they have less work.
"They say the slower economy is affecting them. Right now, I could use the equivalent of another 500 to 600 cords."
Rebecca S. Rabinowitz, chief executive officer of The Open Hearth, said, "Wood is a hot commodity right now" because the dramatic increase in the price of home heating oil is causing many families to seek alternative and supplemental heating methods.
Last season, the average price of home heating oil in Connecticut was $2.57 a gallon. State officials fear the price this season may hit $5 a gallon. The Open Hearth, which was founded in 1884 to care for homeless men, annually sells about 2,250 cords to 1,500 area businesses and homeowners.
The revenue helps support programs that include a 25-bed emergency shelter and the temporary living program, which can house 87 people. Homeless men work at the wood lot to develop job skills that support their recovery.
The price for a cord of wood, while supplies last, is $210 if picked up, or $270 if delivered within a 10-mile radius. To put the Open Hearth in touch with a possible wood supplier, call Ansari at 860-525-3447, Ext. 118.
Reprinted with permission of the Hartford Courant.
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