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Local community groups reach out

Humanitarian organizations have sprung to action to help out Pike County residents in need.

“The American Red Cross has seen clients in Pike County, and we have already committed over $10,000 to the elderly and disabled this year,” said Jane Thrash, community development specialist for the Pike County branch of the American Red Cross.

The campaign called “Project Share,” provides funds to low-income seniors 62-years of age and older and disabled residents on social security disability. People who qualify will receive aid to offset rising power bills here in the winter months.

The funds used in Project Share are raised locally.

“This money is provided by people who donate on their utility bills here in the county,” Thrash said.

But the need in the community may outweigh the supply.

“We’re already out of money and waiting for a second allotment,” Thrash said. “We hope to know something (about the arrival of the second allotment) by Wednesday, so we can start scheduling some more appointments.”

The Red Cross is struggling to meet unusually large demands early in the year.

“Normally, we serve 100 to 150 people between January and June, but we’re already at 100 people this year,” Thrash said. “I think the economy along with the extreme cold weather is the reason for the rise in need.”

The Organized Community Action Program will be assisting several families around the county as well.

“We’ve been helping households with heating bills,” said OCAP Executive Director Wanda Moultry. “On the fifth of January we made around 400 appointments.”

Most of those appointments will result in the granting of at least some aid from OCAP, based on household income and size. In addition to the appointments already scheduled, Moultry estimated that another 400 families have been placed on a waiting list.

“We’ve solicited additional funds from the Alabama Department of Economic and Community Affairs,” Moultry said.

ADECA distributes funds provided by Congress and the state legislature to meet the needs of Alabama residents. Moultry said the additional funds would allow OCAP to accommodate people on the waiting list.

“Whether we receive those funds depends on the budget passed by Congress,” she said. Individuals in need of assistance can call the Red Cross at 566-0632 or OCAP at 566-1712.