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Utility payment help available in Floyd County

Utility payment help available in Floyd County
By James Grob,

It’s that time of year when the money can get a little low and the heating bill can get a little high.

For the most desperate, there might be help available.

Janine Mills is among of group of local citizens who now operate the Charles City Area Ministerium Utility Assistance Fund, which was initially manned by pastors from local churches.

“I think we probably help 80-90 families each year,” Mills said. “That includes more than 90 children.”

Mills didn’t know exactly how the pastors went about getting the fund started about 25-30 years ago, but she said the fund is still alive. It’s county-wide and most of the churches in Floyd County contribute to it, as well as a lot of individuals. Every penny raised goes to help pay the utility bills of area citizens.

“We are just inundated with people, and most of them are just paycheck to paycheck, on minimum wage,” Mills said. “Any little thing that goes wrong, they’re done for.”

Mills said the money goes directly to the utility company, not to the person, and can help cover heat, electricity and water bills. The money isn’t used to help cover a rent or mortgage payment. Recipients of help are screened and checked out to make sure they are truly needy.

“We try really hard not to get scammed,” said Mills, who added that the funding committee is made up of local retired citizens who have served on the board for a number of years.

All of the funds are used locally to “help keep the heat and utilities on for the less fortunate during times of crisis.” The group works with various social agencies to make sure the money donated goes to help the most needy individuals and families.

“We don’t realize how many people in this town are living below the poverty level,” Mills said. “We definitely need funds. Everything is funded by donations.”

To make an appointment to apply for funding or to make a donation, call Trinity United Methodist Church in Charles City at 228-5368.

People or organizations can also mail a tax-deductible donation to Charles City Area Ministerium, Trinity United Methodist Church, 601 Milwaukee Street, Charles City, IA 50616.