PAWTUCKET, R.I. (WPRI) — Bishop Thomas Tobin kicked off the 18th Annual Keep the Heat On campaign Tuesday morning.

The campaign offers help for Rhode Islanders who are struggling to pay their oil and heating utility bills and have already exhausted other assistance programs.

The Saint Cecilia Middle School Student Council presented a check to Bishop Tobin for donations collected by the students.

Keep the Heat On said it has contributed more than $3.9 million in heating assistance to more than 16,500 homes in Rhode Island.

“You give to the church some funds and we give it to people who are in need, who don’t have any heating assistance,” Tobin said. “Think what it’d be like to go through this whole winter in your homes, in your schools, without any heat at all, it’d be awful.”

Tobin said the program saves lives, especially when utilities and heating this winter will be more expensive.

“It raises funds to provide heating assistance for people throughout the region who have nowhere else to turn, who have exhausted every other means of providing heat,” Tobin said.

Rhode Islanders in need can apply for assistance online or by calling (401) 421-7833.

Those looking to donate to the campaign fund can do so online.