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Charities struggling to help the needy

Some agencies reporting no funds to help

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POSTED: November 6, 2009 9:26 a.m.
With winter fast approaching, it appears the volatile economy still has an icy grip on Liberty County residents and agencies trying to help them.
Charities across the Coastal Empire are reporting they either have low reserves or are out of funds to assist people with rent, mortgage payments and heating and electric costs.
“We’re having to tell them that they’re going to have to call on friends, family or their churches for help,” an American Red Cross representative said. “The agencies that would normally help, they just don’t have it right now.”
Trudy Jones is the director of United Way of the Coastal Empire’s 211 human services agency referral hotline, which serves residents living in Glenn, Camden, McIntosh and Liberty counties.
She said in her five years working for the nonprofit charity, she has never seen such a surge in needy individuals who have nowhere to turn.
“Our calls are up 25 percent from last year,” she said. “In September alone, we received 894 calls. Out of that 485 calls were from people seeking help with their electric and out of that 60 were from Liberty County and we currently have very limited resources.”
The United Way of Liberty County has reported they are out of money for assistance and Jones said it is that way for most agencies in the area.
“It seems like every other week I am getting calls from agencies saying that they are out of funds,” she said. “The FEMA funds have really helped in the last few months, especially in Liberty County.”
Earlier this year, the United Way of the Coastal Empire received an estimated $11,000 for human services assistance. 
Jones said those funds have since been depleted.
“Now people are really hurting and it’s even harder for working people … and there are a lot of people living without the basic needs. It’s unfortunate, but that’s just the way people are being forced to live these days,” Jones said.
Not all charities have been forced to completely stop offering aid.
The Community Action Authority for Coastal Empire began taking applications from senior citizens in need of energy assistance on Nov. 1 and will open up the application pool to all citizens starting on Dec 1.
“All they have to do is call 1-866-423-8081 and we will try to accommodate them,” said Elizabeth Hinson, director of the CAA’s community services division.
Hinson admits assistance will be limited and there will be those who are turned away.
“We have more people than we have had in a long time and we have seen people who used to help others now in need of help themselves,” she said. “It’s been very difficult to turn people away. As a matter of fact, it’s been heart-wrenching, but it’s a vicious cycle this year because of the lack of funds everywhere.”

 

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