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PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – In the middle of winter, it’s a choice no one should have to make. When the temperature drops, can you afford to turn on your heat?

For some families in the Pittsburgh area, they simply can’t.

“There are families, cold in their homes and struggling during this time of year,” says Jody Robertson, of the Dollar Energy Fund. “We wanted to just draw attention to it and raise awareness for those families, while also raising funds to help them.”

Heating assistance programs can help bridge the budget gap, making it possible for people to have a warm home.

That’s where the Dollar Energy Fund’s “Cool Down For Warmth” program comes in. They’re helping families stay warm, by putting together a “cool” event. They’ve built an ice house in the middle of Market Square.

“Each block [of ice] is approximately 300 pounds,” says Robertson. “It’s a 20×50-foot ice house.”

This is the fourth year the ice house has been built. The program has raised more than $440,000 since it started.

“Every year, we try to make it a little bigger, a little different,” says Robertson. “This year, we have a garage, a kitchen, we’re putting in a bathroom, a dining area, so it has a realistic look… just like a regular house.”

Mastro Ice is the company responsible for all the construction.

“It’s a lot like making a home,” says owner Mike Mastro. “Basic construction, things need to be level, and square and plum. Instead of using wood, we’re using ice.”

Visitors are encouraged to take the tour, use the brand new Citizens Bank Ice ATM and try out some of the many activities, which are planned on Thursday and Friday.

“We have a soup challenge that’s happening at lunchtime on Thursday and Friday,” says Robertson. “A lot of the local restaurants are coming to serve soups. For a donation, people can come and try four different types. We have over a dozen restaurants to choose from.”

There’s also a giveaway for free Pitt basketball tickets, a live radio broadcast by iHeartMedia’s 94.5 FM 3WS, and coupons for free food from Chipotle and drinks from Dunkin’ Donuts.

For a full schedule of events, click here: https://www.dollarenergy.org/cooldownforwarmth2018/

“We’re grateful for the opportunity to get to use our skills and ability to help people out [who are] less fortunate… [and] help pay their utility bills in the winter time,” says Mastro.