NOVI (WWJ) – Michigan’s harsh winter has put a strain on many budgets as households struggle to pay their heat and electricity bills. Beginning Sunday, January 31, Kroger customers can help local families stay safe and warm by contributing to The Heat and Warmth (THAW) fundraising campaign.

Kroger will collect contributions at coin boxes located near every cash register in its 127 Michigan stores.

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Ken McClure, Kroger spokesperson, said the goal is to surpass the $26,851 that was raised during last year’s campaign.

“One hundred percent of the funds we collect will assist neighbors in local communities who struggle to pay their monthly utility bills,” McClure said in a statement. “Our Kroger customers have demonstrated their generosity so many times in the past and we feel confident they will join us in supporting THAW to help at risk families in Michigan.”

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THAW is a leading provider of utility assistance for Michigan residents in need and collaborates with 80 agency partners to deliver services that support long-term energy solutions. During 2015, THAW distributed more than $16 million in utility assistance to over 23,000 Michigan households. Over 60 percent of those homes included children and seniors who are especially vulnerable to the cold.

“We are proud to celebrate THAW’s 30th anniversary and continue our commitment to ensure our most vulnerable citizens remain healthy, safe and warm during harsh winters,” said Saunteel Jenkins, CEO of THAW, said in a statement. “With the continued support of Kroger and their customers, we can provide assistance to many families that would not have heat and electricity otherwise.”

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Kroger’s THAW campaign will continue through Saturday, February 27. For more details about how to help, visit