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Swim club chills for Project Warmth fundraiser

Project Warmth United Way

Project Warmth United Way Credit: Handout

Members of the Three Village Swim Club were scheduled to take dips Wednesday morning in a temporarily unheated pool to help raise money for the United Way of Long Island’s heating cost assistance program.

The 75 members of the 500-member team, composed of high school and middle school students, are to jump into the cold water at Ward Melville High School in East Setauket to symbolize their sympathy for people who don’t have heat, said a spokeswoman for the National Grid Foundation, which is matching grants to United Way’s Project Warmth up to $150,000.

The amounts of money pledged to the students weren’t immediately available.

With high unemployment and rising heating oil prices on Long Island, the project received record numbers of requests for help in the past two years.

This season, through the end of January, requests were running behind last year’s -- apparently a result of the mild weather, but a spokeswoman for Project Warmth said requests have been on the increase this month.

Meanwhile, budget cutters in Washington have reduced funding for the federal government’s Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program. State officials administering the program in New York expect $374.7 million this season, down from $521.6 million last winter, even as social services officials on Long Island report increases in requests for help from homeowners.

Bob Keller, president of National Grid Foundation, said in a statement announcing the cold dip by the Three Village students, “In the face of drastic cuts in government funding, our support of Project Warmth has never been more critical and our partnership, never more meaningful.”

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