PROVIDENCE, R.I. - In the field house of LaSalle Academy this afternoon Joshua Kraft, Governor Donald Carcieri, Senate President Teresa Paiva Weed, Speaker William Murphy, Patriots and Pro Football Hall of Famer Andre Tippett and The Most Rev. Thomas J. Tobin, Bishop of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence, participated in a bill signing ceremony authorizing a Rhode Island license plate for the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, with proceeds to benefit local non-profit organizations, and to kickoff the 2009-10 'Keep the Heat On' campaign, an effort that provides heating assistance to Rhode Islanders with no place left to turn for help.
Since it was established in 2005, 'Keep the Heat On' has raised and provided nearly $1 million in assistance to Rhode Islanders in need.
During the kick-off event, Governor Donald L. Carcieri signed legislation sponsored by Senator Maryellen Goodwin and Representative Edwin Pacheco, that authorizes a new Rhode Island license plate featuring the New England Patriots logo to underscore the long -standing commitment by the Kraft family and the Patriots organization to the state's community and local charitable causes.
The legislation (2009-S0456A) (2009-H5451B) allows Rhode Islanders to purchase the special New England Patriots license plates for a fee of $41.50 over the regular registration fee. Of that fee, $21.50 will go into the state's general fund and $20 will go to the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, the nonprofit organization founded by Patriots owner Robert Kraft to help support charitable and philanthropic agencies throughout New England. For subsequent renewals, the additional fee is $10, all of which would be allocated to the foundation.
Under the legislation the Foundation is required to use the money raised through the sale of the plates for Rhode Island-based charitable causes.
"Rhode Island is home to the best and most loyal Patriot fans in the world," said Governor Donald L. Carcieri. "The Kraft family and the New England Patriots have always repaid that loyalty by giving their time and money to many local charities here in Rhode Island. Now, fans across Rhode Island can show their support for the home town team while joining the Patriots in helping local nonprofit organizations through the purchase of New England Patriot license plates. I have no doubt that many Rhode Islanders will want to proudly display their team colors from Woonsocket to Westerly.
"I would also like to recognize Bishop Tobin and the Diocese of Providence for the "Keep the Heat On" program, which has helped families pay for heat during the winter for the past five years. While today's event is fun, we should not forget that many Rhode Islanders are struggling this year," the Governor continued. "No one should have to go cold this winter, and this program will help many Rhode Island families stay warm and safe."
"As the holiday season approaches, we are reminded of our responsibility to help those less fortunate," said Speaker Murphy. "The New England Patriots and the Kraft family are keenly aware of that responsibility, and we are proud to partner with them. I am also proud that the new Patriots' license plates that were approved in the most recent General Assembly session will benefit worthy causes."
President of the Senate M. Teresa Paiva Weed (D - Dist. 13, Newport, Jamestown) said: "This legislation makes the New England Patriots license plate a reality for fans in Rhode Island. Fans can now support their favorite football team in a way that also helps Rhode Islanders in need through programs such as Keep the Heat On."
"We are proud of this partnership," said Josh Kraft, President of the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation. "The Patriots enjoy great support in Rhode Island, where there are more Patriots season ticket holders per capita than any other state. We hope that support translates to a great demand for the Patriots license plate, and, in turn, crucial proceeds for a variety of needy organizations in the state."
"Many Rhode Islanders are struggling to cope with the challenged economy and with winter soon upon us, heating bills will create new burdens for families in need," said Bishop Tobin. "Through 'Keep the Heat On', the Catholic Church is providing some relief to families with no place left to turn for heating assistance. All Rhode Island families deserve a warm place to sleep at night regardless of their financial situation. I would like to thank the New England Patriots, Governor Carcieri, Senate President Paiva Weed and Speaker Murphy for their support of this important program that is making a real difference for Rhode Islanders."
Senator Maryellen Goodwin (D - Dist. 1, Providence), Senate sponsor of the legislation creating a New England Patriots license plate, said: "The Keep The Heat On campaign is one example of the many charities that will benefit from the revenues generated through the sale of New England Patriots license plates. While giving fans another way to express their support for the team, the plates will also benefit worthy Rhode Island causes. In other words, Rhode Island charities will benefit from the popularity of the Patriots - that's a win-win scenario. I want to thank the Kraft family, Andre Tippett, the Patriots Foundation, Representative Edwin Pacheco, my colleagues in the Senate and House, and the many others who worked to make this plate a reality."
"The special New England Patriots license plates will allow fans to display their team spirit while raising money for many worthy Rhode Island causes, including the Keep the Heat On campaign," said representative Edwin Pacheco. "For a small fee, die-hard Patriots fans in our state will now have the opportunity to help the less fortunate."
'Keep the Heat On' is supported by generous donors and grants from the Catholic Charity Fund appeal. In just four years, more than 2,580 individuals and organizations have contributed $914,935 in support of the heating assistance fund: $558,828 has been provided for oil assistance, $237,245 for gas and $103,452 for electric to assist 3,094 Rhode Island households. The Catholic Charity Fund has provided $225,000 in grants in support of 'Keep the Heat On.' During today's event, the Bishop announced a $50,000 Charity Fund grant for the 2009-10 campaign.
To apply for assistance through 'Keep the Heat On', applicants may call 401/421-7833 or log onto www.heatri.com for additional information. 'Keep the Heat On' applicants must demonstrate ineligibility for other federal, state and private assistance. All inquiries are confidential. Those who would like to make a donation to 'Keep the Heat On' may send a check, noting 'Keep the Heat On', made payable to the Interfaith Dire Emergency Fund and mailed to 184 Broad Street, Providence, Rhode Island 02903, or visit www.heatri.com and use the secure web server for credit card donations.
ABOUT THE NEW ENGLAND PATRIOTS CHARITABLE FOUNDATION
The New England Patriots Charitable Foundation is the non-profit organization established by the Kraft family in 1994 to support charitable and philanthropic agencies throughout New England. This support comes in the form of direct grants and the donation of signed memorabilia to charitable causes, and from Patriots players who offer their direct support by appearing at charity functions throughout the year.
The Foundation's primary goal is to support programs that aid the youth and families of the New England region by assisting programs that foster cultural diversity, education, family and health. The Foundation has taken special interest in youth programs that encourage education, creativity and development of character. For more information about the New England Patriots Charitable Foundation, please visit www.patriots.com.
ABOUT KEEP THE HEAT ON
The Interfaith Dire Emergency Fund was established in 1978 by the Interfaith Leadership to assist those who have exhausted all other means of heating assistance including federal, state, and private. Responding to skyrocketing heating costs since 2005 year, Bishop Tobin renamed the effort 'Keep the Heat On', adding the Catholic Charity Fund matching grant. The Dire Emergency Fund is administered by the diocesan Office of Community Services and Advocacy and assists those in need throughout Rhode Island.