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Salvation Army offering Coasties, fed workers utility aid

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By Jon Hawley
Staff Writer

Thursday, January 17, 2019

Federal workers aren’t the Salvation Army’s typical clients.

But because of the partial government shutdown, now in its 28th day, the Salvation Army of Elizabeth City is offering to help federal workers pay their utility bills.

Caseworker Lola Wright said Thursday that the Salvation Army’s utility assistance program is available to federal employees struggling to pay bills. U.S. Coast Guard personnel and some other federal employees are either furloughed or working without pay during the shutdown, now the longest in U.S. history.

The federal government failed to pay Coast Guard service members on Tuesday, their first missed paychecks of the shutdown, according to published reports. Federal workers for airports, parks, agriculture and other services are also affected.

Wright said the Salvation Army offers up to $300 to help people with utility bills. She’s trying to publicize the program now because federal employees may not have known about or needed it before now, she added.

“I’ve had conversations with people who are affected, and they are hurting pretty badly,” she said.

Wright said affected families need to set up appointments with her, and they should call the Salvation Army at 338-4129 to do so, or for more information. Applicants are required to present their federal furlough slips to verify they’re affected by the shutdown, she said.

The Salvation Army also has a food pantry available to those in need, Wright said, adding it includes many staples and dry goods, but not produce. Food Bank of the Albemarle is also making food and other assistance available to Coast Guard personnel and civilian workers and contractors who are going without pay during the shutdown. 

Local utilities are allowing extensions on utility bills and/or waiving late fees, including Elizabeth City and Pasquotank County. However, the bills will still ultimately need to be paid. That means the Salvation Army’s assistance could take some pressure off families when they do get paid again, and have to catch up on other bills and potential late fees.

The Salvation Army’s office is at 602 N. Hughes Blvd., Elizabeth City.

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