Some Lincoln area residents were able to keep their home a little warmer this winter thanks to The Salvation Army’s HeatShare program, Black Hills Energy and a generous estate gift from Bert Boquet and his wife, Eleanore.

Bert and Eleanore Boquet, lifelong Lincoln, Neb. residents, spent 57 years together scrimping and saving in every way they could. Bert, a 30-year federal employee, and Eleanore, a nurse, chose to live simple lives so others could one day benefit. "Bert would go without a new pair of shoes for himself saying he had all he needed. Someone else needed it more," said Daylene Kollmorgen, a close friend.

Last fall The Salvation Army received gifts through Bert’s estate. First, a $30,000 gift was designated to the Lincoln Corps in support of its programs and services, and second, a $30,000 gift was made to Black Hills Care HeatShare, an energy assistance program managed through The Salvation Army, which aids families in need of utilities assistance. Additionally, Black Hills Energy Foundation matched the HeatShare gift, doubling its funds to $60,000.

"The need for energy assistance increased significantly over last year," said Clarice Mackey, director of social services at the Lincoln Corps. "In January we assisted 96 families, distributing $18,000 in utilities assistance compared to the same month last year, when we assisted 63 families by distributing $6,000 in utilities assistance," said Mackey.

"These selfless donations provide warmth to so many families in need. Most people don’t think much about heat, but if you’ve ever gone without, it means a great deal," said Major Jamie Pennington, Lincoln Corps officer.

"We can now help even more families, many having to choose between putting food on the table and paying the heat bill, so now they can do both," said Pennington.