An area nonprofit can continue helping poor and elderly residents stay warm this winter through a $137,141 state grant.

Gov. Kay Ivey recently awarded the grant to the Community Action Agency of Talladega, Clay, Randolph, Calhoun and Cleburne counties. The annual award was part of a larger, $2.3 million grant to 20 community action agencies in the state to help low-income residents.

Stephanie Keith, executive director of the area agency, said the nonprofit hadn’t yet received the grant money.

“It’s basically to help low income citizens in the five counties we serve, basically to help them with utilities,” Keith said.

Keith said some of the money also helps residents weatherize their homes.

“We’re also able to assist customers with emergency services such as rent or help them find emergency shelter,” Keith said.

Keith said the agency has already helped many residents with heating costs this winter.

“In the Anniston area and Talladega and Sylacauga, over the last month we’ve probably assisted over 200 customers,” Keith said.

Calhoun County has seen a string of exceptionally cold days this winter, with temperatures dropping below freezing every night for the past week, and sometimes remaining sub-freezing through the day.

The grant money will help many residents, but maybe not as much as last year.

The National Energy Assistance Directors Association projects that national average cost of home heating will increase from $783 to $861 this winter — the highest price since 2015. The association is the policy organization for the state directors of the federal Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program, which provides grants to states to help low-income families pay their heating and cooling bills.

A recent press release states the association had requested that Congress raise funding for the program to address the rising costs.

Keith said residents are welcome to apply to her agency for utility bill assistance.

To set up an appointment with the Community Action Agency, call 256-362-6611.

Staff writer Patrick McCreless: 256-235-3561. On Twitter @PMcCreless_Star.