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The Other Side Of The Holidays-Agencies Offer Food, Fuel, Medical & Other Assistance



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The Other Side Of The Holidays—

Agencies Offer Food, Fuel, Medical & Other Assistance

By Kendra Bobowick

Newtown Social Services Director Ann Piccini sees a struggling side to the holiday gift shopping, roast turkey dinners, and decorated homes.

While donations such as coats, mittens, or food “have been good, it’s been going out as quickly as it’s coming in,” she said. Many Newtown residents need assistance, she said. “People are struggling.” She has seen many new faces this year.

She attributes many of the hardships to a faltering economy. “People may have no incomes because they lost their jobs, or they are unable to get jobs,” she said. Elderly residents are on fixed, low incomes, and like others in town, they could benefit from food, fuel, or medical assistance this year.

Get the help you need, she urges. “People won’t come in to apply, but they are struggling.” To parents, she said, “If you’ve got kids, you’ve got to come in, especially for heat assistance.”

Most recently, Ms Piccini’s department has identified families who will benefit from the upcoming December 18 Holiday Basket Program organized by the Newtown Fund (see related article).

“It’s a busy time of year,” said Ms Piccini.

Assistance Is Available

Food — Residents can turn to Newtown Social Services for food. The food pantry “is for residents who have a need,” she said. Contact Ms Piccini at 203-270-4330, or drop off food or clothing from Monday through Friday at Town Hall South, 3 Main Street between 8 am and 4:30 pm.

The FAITH (Food Assistance Immediate Temporary Help) food pantry is also available for Newtown residents. Proof of residency is required. The pantry provides food on an emergency basis. Food and financial donations are welcomed. Donors and recipients may visit the pantry at St John’s Episcopal Church on Washington Avenue on Tuesdays from 10 am to noon and Thursdays from 6 to 7:30 pm. Homebound residents may request delivery. Call 203-426-5604, or 203-426-8507.

Fuel — Fuel Assistance is determined by household income and assets. Aside from seeking aid from Social Services, residents can also apply for help through the state’s Operation Fuel Inc. According to Operationfuel.org, the philanthropic arm of Hartford energy supplier Northeast Utilities is donating $1 million to support winter fuel assistance programs in its primary service territories including Connecticut. Funds from Northeast Utilities Foundation will be donated to Operation Fuel to benefit residents in Connecticut communities served by Connecticut Light & Power and Yankee Gas divisions. Ms Piccini is the Newtown Fuel Bank contact at 203-270-4330

To contribute to Operation Fuel Inc, contact Director of Development Lynn McDonald by e-mail at lynn@operationfuel.org or call 860-243-2345, extension 303.

Medical — Aside from food and fuel, many residents face medical and prescription costs. Ms Piccini urges residents to sign up for ConnPACE, a state social services pharmaceutical assistance contract for the elderly or disabled. According to Connpace.com, ConnPACE is a service assisting seniors age 65 or older, or people age 18 or older with disabilities, to afford costs of most prescriptions, insulin, and insulin syringes. Visit the website or call 800-423-5026 to determine eligibility.

Throughout town are many individual efforts to raise holiday support for residents this year from coordinating food baskets and donations to food or winter clothing drives held monthly.

Residents without sufficient health insurance can also visit Kevin’s Community Center, which provides free primary health care to people age 18 and older within Newtown’s health district who are uninsured or underinsured and have limited financial resources. The free medical clinic is located at 153 South Main Street. Call 203-426-0496. Open Wednesdays from 1 to 5 pm. Learn more at KevinsCommunityCenter.org, or visit the site to make a donation.

Other Resources

The Community Action Committee of Danbury (CACD), which serves nearby towns including Newtown, offers a variety of assistance to people with qualifying income levels. “We do see an increase around the holidays” for food assistance and holiday baskets, said Resource Development Manager Katie Cowall. She also sees an increase in energy assistance from people who have suffered recent employment problems.

The CADC provides food, fuel, housing assistance, an early learning center, homeless prevention, the diaper program, and more.

The CACD is a nonprofit organization that offers a myriad of services to low-income families and individuals. Learn more about assistance or making a donation at cacd-caa.org, or call 203-744-4700. Or, visit the 66 North Street, Danbury, office between 9 am and 5 pm Monday through Friday. Diapers and food are always needed.

The Waterbury-based New Opportunities Inc also serves Fairfield County towns including Newtown. The group has a long list of programming, including homelessness prevention, senior care, infant care, comprehensive outreach projects for elders, head start, employment assistance, family preservation, money management programs, school readiness, and more. Call 203-575-9799, or learn more about services and donation opportunities at NewOppInc.org.

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