Sen. Bob Duff (D-Norwalk) asked for donations to help provide heating fuel for families in need at a press conference announcing the partnership between Operation Fuel and the Darien Fuel Bank on Thursday, April 11.

All of the donations collected go to the families in need, said Duff, chairman of the Energy and Technology Committee of the Connecticut General Assembly.

"One dollar of that one dollar goes toward helping Operation Fuel," Duff said.

The need for fuel assistance is a year-round problem, Duff said, adding that the number of the houses in Darien and Norwalk that require assistance continues to increase due to a weaker economy and high oil prices.

Since August, Operation Fuel has provided energy assistance grants to 112 houses in Darien and Norwalk, 51 of which are occupied by senior citizens.

In 2012, there were 122 Darien households that requested assistance from the Darien Fuel Bank, according to Olive Hauser, director of human services, which, she added, is normal for Darien.

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Operation Fuel, Connecticut's only statewide emergency energy assistance program, has a network of more than 100 fuel banks statewide. It has distributed more than $2.5 million in winter energy assistance through Connecticut, as well as an additional $500,000 last summer for a total of $3 million since July 2012.

The annual home energy affordability gap for Connecticut households with incomes at or below 200 percent of the Federal Poverty Level was nearly $662 million in 2012, according to the Home Energy Affordability Gap: Connecticut Report, and more than $15.6 million for household in the 25th senatorial district, which includes Darien.

Donating to Operation Fuel is easy, Duff said. Residents are able to donate via their monthly bill, whether it is from Yankee Gas or Connecticut Light and Power, or online.

"There's no reason not to donate," Duff said.

The money is then used as credit on a family in need's monthly check, lowering their monthly payment.

The funds donated can either be used to prevent a shut off or restore power.

"We're so anxious to help more people," Hauser said.

mspicer@bcnnew.com; 203-972-4407; @Meg_DarienNews