It’s not only the holiday season, but the charity season as folks raise money for all sorts of causes, especially food and clothing drives for the poor. The state’s utilities also collect money to help the poor pay their heating bills, and state officials say 500- and 700-thousand dollars is collected annually in Iowa for the cause through customer contributions on utility bills. Jerry McKim of the state’s Low Income Heating and Energy Assistance Program says the help’s greatly appreciated by those who qualify, and he urges those who haven’t checked off on the voluntary contribution on the utility bill to do so. McKim says Iowa law requires all heat and electric utilities to advertise the contribution program twice a year. The state’s two largest utilities — MidAmerican and Alliant — distribute the charity money to low-income Iowans through the state’s Community Action Agencies which also administer government charity to help poor Iowans pay their heat and electric bills.