A Bend gas station was giving away gallons of propane to help the homeless in our community Wednesday. And the timing couldn’t have been better with temperatures expected to plunge into single digits overnight.
People who rely on propane to help heat their tents and trailers call it a lifesaver.
Forest Mays is one of those, living in a trailer on China Hat Road. He showed us the heater he uses to keep his living space at 70 degrees on a cold day.
“Sometimes it’ll start right away. Other times you have to click it a few times,” says Forest as he was trying to get it going.
“Oh ok. Oh it’s on,” he says with a nervous laugh.
“I think this is just a lifesaver. I don’t see how anybody can survive without something like this out here. Below zero is just too much,” he adds.
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It’s a lifesaver that the Shell Stop and Go on Bend’s east side, and Ed Staub Propane, gave out for free Wednesday — up to eight gallons per person.
“Found a way that maybe we can help some of those folks that are out there that are in need, particularly the roofless and shelterless,” said Kent Couch, the Shell Stop and Go co-owner. “Give them a little propane. We’re hoping that we can bless some people out there through, keeping them warm through this cold season.”
While we were there, we talked to Smokey. He lives on Hunnell Road.
“Dropping into the negative numbers tonight would be devastating. We might have had loss of life without the generosity … here to provide free propane for the homeless,” says Smokey.
Smokey was given a ride out to the gas station by Central Oregon Villages, a group that works with those experiencing homelessness. They picked up propane tanks from Hunnell Road and took them to the gas station.
How long can that propane last? Forest says his 5-gallon tank keeps him covered for about a week if he uses it about 8-10 hours a day.
“I cook with it too. So I bring frozen food and I can cook it. Soup. Whatever to keep me warm. Drink hot tea or coffee,” says Forest.
But even with his propane and his heater, Forest says he’s not going to chance it. He’s got some money saved up and is spending the night in a motel room.