Winter weather and inflation drive up heating costs
With the holiday season approaching, budgets are tightening and the effects of inflation and the rising cost of living can put a strain on Cape Codders trying to make ends meet.
The Cape Cod Times Fund for the Needy kicked off its fundraising drive Sunday and plans to raise $1.55 million to help the growing number of Cape and Islanders facing emergency financial needs.
“We look forward to this year’s fundraiser and are so fortunate to have such a generous community,” said Susan Johnson, executive director of the Needy Fund. “Last year we raised an incredible amount of money, well above our goal, and it has all given back to the community, and we are really grateful.”
Last year, the fund raised more than $1.6 million through community donations — $220,000 of which was raised over the summer — and has been able to use the donations to provide short-term financial assistance and long-term resource support referrals to those in need.
“We really smashed our target last year, and we hope to do it again this year,” Johnson said.
She added that over the past year, the volume of customer requests has increased significantly, as the fund has received more than 7,500 assistance requests so far this year, and has provided direct financial assistance to more than 4,000 clients.
For perspective, last year at this time the fund received about 5,600 applications from clients, and provided financial assistance to about 2,600 of them, Johnson said.
She said the Fund for Those in Need provides emergency financial assistance regardless of whether a customer qualifies for financial assistance, and is working with a network of organizations across the region to help everyone who contacts the Fund for assistance.
Winter weather changes and challenges
With the winter months approaching, Johnson said fund managers are preparing to increase requests for help with heating costs which are expected to rise between 30% and 60% this winter. Equally important, though, are requests for help with food insecurity and paying rent or a mortgage. She said that food and housing assistance tends to account for the largest number of applications received by the Fund for the Needy throughout the year.
“You know what your mortgage payments are going to be, your car payments or your fuel, so the only place you have wiggle room is in your food budget,” Johnson said. “This is the only place you can take money for other things. The question then is, do you feed your family healthy food that will keep them full, or heat your house or pay your rent? It sounds harsh, but it’s reality.”
Another trend the fund has seen over the past year, Johnson said, is an increase in applications from community members who earn too much to qualify for state or federal assistance programs, but are still struggling to make ends meet.
Sky-high inflation combined with a lack of affordable housing in the Cape and Islands has pushed up the cost of living in the region in general, putting pressure on families who seem to earn enough from abroad to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, childcare is another issue Johnson said the Fund for Those in Need provides help with. The lack of affordable childcare in the Cape and Islands leaves even dual-income families struggling.
“We may have two parents who make good money, but they will have to quit their jobs to stay home with the kids because they can’t afford childcare,” she said. “They don’t want to quit their jobs, of course, but because of the increasing cost of childcare and lack of options, they may not have a choice.”
Johnson praised the community for its donations last year, and expressed hope that residents would continue to donate to the Fund for Those in Need to provide direct assistance to their neighbours.
“Cape Codders are traditionally generous and supportive of other Cape Codders who are struggling to make ends meet,” said Peter Meyer, Honorary President of the Trust for Those in Need. “We trust that the spirit of giving and compassion for others will once again lift the Needy Fund to achieve its fundraising goal. We thank all of you for helping the Needy Fund lend a helping hand to those in temporary financial hardship.”
More about the Fund for the Needy
Many human service agencies provide assistance to those in need, but the Cape Cod Times Fund for the Needy has been helping with a range of immediate and short-term emergencies such as food, rent, medical costs, and other essential expenses since 1936.
No cash is given to fund recipients in need. Instead, the organization pays the sellers through a voucher program.
How to donate to the needy fund
Tax-deductible donations can be made at needyfund.org. Checks can also be paid to the Cape Cod Times Needy Fund and mailed to Cape Cod Times Needy Fund, PO Box 36, Hyannis, MA 02601.
How to get help from the Fund for those in need
Those who need help can contact the Fund for the Needy at 508-778-5661 or 800-422-1446.
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