Project provides heat in winter while helping environment

In July 2014, Project TGIF was the official waste cooking oil collector for the 2014 Sailfest in New London, Conn. (CNS/Westerly Innovations Network)

Warwick, R.I. — Not everyone is fortunate enough to enjoy the Christmas season inside a cozy home while the bitter winter wind whips outside. Some people don't have the means to combat the cold weather by turning up the thermostat and sipping a cup of hot chocolate.

It's a fact not lost on six members of the Westerly Innovations Network, known as WIN. They formed Project Turn Grease Into Fuel, or Project TGIF, a student-led program that encourages residents and businesses to recycle used cooking oil, which is then converted into biodiesel and donated to charities that support people who require heating assistance.

"It makes me realize how blessed I am," said Miles Temel, 16, a parishioner at St. Clare Parish in Westerly. "There are things I take for granted, like being able to get into a warm bed every night. Why should anyone be deprived of that? Why can't everyone have that? Why should we just stand idly by when we are able to help?"

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