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Have you ever been truly cold?  

I don't mean a little chilly; I don't mean shivering occasionally.  I mean the kind of cold that sinks bone-deep, that simultaneously numbs and burns hands and feet, that defeats your ability even to think because all the while there's an ever-growing pounding in your head: 'Cold, cold, cold, cold, COLD."  

I have.  And it's like hunger; it becomes all-encompassing.  

It is also deadly.

Kossacks, one of our own is at risk of freezing this winter.  We can prevent that from happening.  Come with me over the jump to find out how.

UPDATE 2:  I've just heard from lapidarygal.  I'm going to let her say it, 'cause she'll say it much better than I ever could:
I just have time for a quick update.  Including what I believe are gift certs bought on the website from Kos people, I have no way of knowing for sure, but I would imagine with the timing it works - the total is $415.90 not including any matches or any checks that people said they were going to send.  WOW!!!!!

I am getting up very early & driving to Escanaba tomorrow morning (50 miles each way) to go to Menards to buy the heater!!!  I am SO very excited & so very grateful!!!!!

I will also be calling the propane people tomorrow to arrange to get hot water.  I just can't believe it, I really can't!!!  Never in my life have I run across such a kind community of people who were so willing to help out others.

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UPDATE:  We have used up Oke and rfall's match, and then some.  Now, belinda ridgewood is offering $100 in matching funds for donations made after 12:00 PM MST.  So give generously; your donation may be doubled!
As I write this, it's currently 16 degrees in their part of Michigan's Upper Peninsula.  That will be the HIGH tomorrow.  Lows are regularly getting into single digits.

Now, I'm originally from Michigan.  I've suffered [mild] frostbite in those winters; I know how deadly they can be.  As we've seen year after year on our rezes, particularly, people freeze quite literally to death.  This is obscene; this is criminal.  And yet, it happens daily.

As you'll read below, lapidarygal and her family have already made enormous sacrifices - way above and beyond anything that enters the woolly heads of the punditocracy when they natter brainlessly on about "shared sacrifice."  And with the help of this community over the last couple of weeks, they've managed to save their house.

What they still have not been able to afford, despite scrimping and saving in ways that most people could never even envision, is real heat and hot water.  Sara R explained the situation in her diary a few days ago:

An additional $200 would buy this family an infrared heater that would keep them warm in a better fashion than are the oil heaters they are using now.  It will cost $2000 to $2500 to replace their furnace which is cracked and unsafe to use.  Restoring hot water, as a priority, is likely to come before buying a new furnace!
An infrared heater would be lovely.  However, it's still a stopgap measure.  And as someone who is currently heating her living quarters purely with "stopgap measures," I can tell you from raw experience that it's no substitute for a real furnace.  What I'd like is to see us raise enough money 1) immediately, to cover the infrared heater and getting their hot water back on and functioning safely, and 2) for the long term, enough to replace the furnace outright, so that they have real heat in a safe and cost-effective fashion.  Based on the prices we've been quoted, it seems to me that we could do both for under $5,000.  I've seen this community do amazing things; surely we can raise that?
MATCHING FUNDS!  Oke and rfall have generously offered to match up to $100 in donations to get real heat for lapidarygal and her family.  Donations can be made via PayPal at blueherongem [at] gmail [dot] com.  If you prefer to send a check, let us know in comments, and lapidarygal will Kosmail you with the address.  Please note your donation in the comments so that we can ensure that it gets matched!
Now, if you haven't yet read the backstory to the situation in which lapidarygal and her husband find themselves, here it is in their own words.  Please take a moment a read it.  I dare you to get all the way through it without tearing up.
When I heard of your offer to help at first I cried.  I was hit square in the face with gratitude and the realization that someone cared.  As you know, it is lonely and brutal out there.  It is difficult to feel sorry for myself because there are many who have it much worse.  Certainly almost everyone is suffering.  There are many heartbreaking stories to be told.

Our recent saga began a few years ago in Minneapolis.  Patty & I were gainfully employed, me in the building industry and she as a well paid DBA for a large corporation.  At the time, the IT field had already begun to shrink after the dot-com bust.  In addition, outsourcing was ramping up and her employer was building a new offshore IT center.  The handwriting was on the wall for all existing IT employees as their careers were ruined.

At this point, we were searching for an alternative self-employment and gradually I acquired skills as a  gem cutter and little by little we developed a thriving business with a global Internet exposure.  Profits were such that soon we more than able to justify leaving our positions and working full time on our new endeavor.  It quickly became apparent that we should move to a low overhead area which would be much cheaper to operate in than Minneapolis and we chose a fairly remote area in Upper Michigan.  Using our savings, we were able to purchase a very inexpensive home for cash, pay off our vehicles and make some capitol investments in our business.  In short, we were debt free.  Life was good for a while and we drastically expanded our customer base.  They were buying our products as fast as we could produce them and profits were excellent.

Then the economy crashed.  Almost overnight, demand vanished unless we sold high quality products at very low prices.  In order to maintain the volume required to maintain positive cash flow, we had to produce more and more but to do so required a higher and higher level of capitol investment yet the money for such investment was not to be found.  We were trapped and paying  basic household bills was a fantasy.  Here we were stuck in a town with a terrible economy and no way out.  Last year for example, our family of three survived on $7,000 and that included investment in the business - what we lived on was actually less. We worked grueling hours and truly we were working for nothing.  While this was going on, we also took in our grandson, now 12, who came to live with us when he was 10 due to extreme dysfunction with his mother.  Our grandson is severely ADHD and an extreme challenge for us.  We do our best but our best is not nearly what this child needs.  We fear for his and our future.

To our credit, we have become adept at operating with low expenses.  To years ago to save money, we cut off the propane fuel to our hot water heater and now twice a week we heat water on the stove and we share the water.  Patty first, then our grandson and then John.  You can save a lot of money this way.  In terms of electricity, we run our house like Apollo 13, counting watts.  Unable to afford fuel for our furnace which now is not working at all, we last all winter in subzero temperatures crowding around 3 cheap oil filled radiators in one part of our living room.  We used to be able to use the furnace for a little supplemental heat even though it stunk.  We hang blankets around this core area and dress in layers.  It sounds terrible but you would be surprised what you can get used to. We wash dishes in cold water and we strongly recommend Dawn dishwashing liquid for this task.  Laundry is done by hand and hung on our solar linear clothes dryer with an indoors assist hung around the heater in the winter.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  We have applied for government assistance and fortunately are receiving $173 in food stamps which we are grateful for.  We are trying our hardest to maintain food independence and supplement our diet with produce from our organic garden much of it stored in the root cellar.  In addition, we eat a lot of homemade sprouts which allows us to eat we for very little money.

Thanks to Governor Snyder and our republican state government, we were stripped of all energy assistance last spring.  Thanks to Governor Snyder, our Medicaid was also downgraded to what is called a "spend down" in which we have a significant monthly co-pay (over $500) that frankly is well beyond our ability to pay.  This is especially difficult because Patty has been recovering from a recent full knee replacement that had required extensive physical therapy and she has a whole group of other health issues that now must go untreated including her other knee is which is on its way out.

3 years ago we sold one of our vehicles to raise cash and are now left with an aging pick up truck that we pray will keep running a while longer.

Our biggest fear at this point is our non-payment of personal property taxes.  We have to somehow come up with $900 in back taxes or face the loss of our home.  We cannot at this point afford an apartment & our fear is not only losing our home but our grandson as well.

Fortunately, we do have some good news.  John got a part time job as a dock worker at St. Vincent de Paul.  The pay is low but this tiny income stream has been a relief for us.  It is also nice to work for an organization that gives back to the community.  What a concept.  People working together for the overall good of the community.  Our food pantry helps a great many people.  We are looking forward to the turkey dinner that they will provide for us this year.

This sob story could go on and on and I am really angry that I have to tell it at all.  As an American, I am shocked that we, the 99%, have arrived at this point.  I applaud the efforts for those in the Kos Community as well as those presently fighting in the front lines of the Occupy groups everywhere.  It is those efforts that give us hope.  It is those efforts that are the light at the end of our tunnel. Our PayPal address is blueherongem@gmail.com. The link for our business is here.
 

Please note:  I'll have to be in and out a lot today.  I will be back to tend comments in between real-life chores as I can, and other folks will help out with answering questions, etc., as they're able.  If you have a question, I promise that I will get an answer for you; it simply may take me a little longer than usual.

Finally, chi miigwech ("many thanks") to triciawyse and Sara R for spearheading this effort and keeping it going, to Oke and rfall for their generous match, to all the folks who've already given, and to lapidarygal and her family for letting us help.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Aji on Thu Dec 08, 2011 at 09:28 AM PST.

Also republished by PWB Peeps, Income Inequality Kos, Street Prophets , J Town, ClassWarfare Newsletter: WallStreet VS Working Class Global Occupy movement, and DK Grants.

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