Gelato business to offer 100% of today’s proceeds to heating oil assistance

Joshua Davis, co-owner of The Gelato Fiasco, displays one of the more than 1,200 flavors of gelato and sorbetto produced in the company’s five-year history. The company is holding a fundraiser Sunday to support Keep ME Warm, a home heating oil assistance program.

The Gelato Fiasco, a gelato business with retail locations in Brunswick and Portland, is holding a fundraiser today at both its stores to help people in Cumberland County heat their homes.

Heating oil prices currently average $3.69 a gallon in Maine, which means filling a standard 250-gallon tank costs $922.50, far beyond the resources of many low-income families, according to the United Ways of Maine and Maine Community Action Agencies.

At the same time, federal funding for the Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program in Maine has dropped from $54 million in 2011 to $38.5 million this year, according to the agencies. Changes in federal eligibility guidelines last year made over 4,000 families and seniors ineligible for LIHEAP.

For those receiving assistance, the Maine State Housing Authority estimates that the average heating benefit will fall from $802 in 2011 to $556 this winter.

Which is exactly why Joshua Davis, co-founder of The Gelato Fiasco, and his business partner, Bruno Tropeano, wanted to help make up the difference. The Gelato Fiasco will hold an all-day fundraiser today (Wednesday) to benefit the Keep ME Warm fund, which provides emergency heating assistance to Maine residents.

“We heard there was a lot of pressure on heating assistance programs available to Maine families,” Davis said. “It was something we were concerned about. It’s ironic that we sell a frozen dessert, but we’re a Maine business. Our families and friends are here in Maine and so we wanted to pitch in and help in any small way we could.”

Here’s how it works: If a customer brings the Scooping for Community for Heating Assistance flyer to the store on Wednesday, 100 percent of the pre-tax purchase will go to the fund. Here’s a link to the flyer, which you can print out and bring in to the store.

While The Gelato Fiasco holds regular fundraising events for area nonprofits, this one is by far the largest the business has held, Davis said. It has the potential to raise several thousand dollars for the cause, he said.

“I don’t think we’ll be able to solve the problem tomorrow, but it’s step in the right direction,” Davis said. “It’s something we can do and I hope people come forward to help us help other people.”

The Gelato Fiasco stores are at 74 Maine St. in Brunswick and 425 Fore St. in Portland. Don’t forget your flyer. Here’s the link again: http://www.gelatofiasco.com/download/gelato-fiasco-keep-me-warm.pdf

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Whit Richardson

About Whit Richardson

Whit Richardson is Business Editor at the Bangor Daily News. He blogs about Maine business, entrepreneurs and the economy.