Beyond the Byline: Feel the spirit of giving

·4 min read

Dec. 5—WILKES-BARRE — This year, perhaps more than any other year, is truly a time to invoke the old adage that it is better to give than receive.

Take a look around and you will see — perhaps even feel — the tremendous need that exists in our community and you can't help but notice that the need is growing at an alarming rate.

That's why you see so many programs out there that are designed to help others — to help people who are in need.

We see food assistance programs sprouting up every week, with people doing all they can to get food to families who have no place else to go.

We saw Giving Tuesday raise more than $171,000 to be distributed to 46 community nonprofits to help each of them in some small way tom provide help for people in need.

And Grotto Pizza at Harveys Lake is again hosting its Parade of Trees to allow almost 30 nonprofits raise money to help clients they serve — again, each list is growing.

And we see efforts like that of Lana Eden, the 8-year-old "Angel of Larksville," who for the second year has managed to get toys donated to nearly 200 families in her church and beyond.

The sobering fact is that more people today need more help, not just to smile on Christmas day, but to survive every day — to feed and clothe their children and to pay their bills and, hopefully, to help them get to the point when they can again walk upright and be proud and find their way through these dark days and on to a better future.

It's what humanity is all about, this spirit of giving — of giving of ourselves for the benefit of those less fortunate.

This week, the Pennsylvania Department of Human Services reminded Pennsylvanians that help is available for those who need it during the winter months and year-round — including resources to help pay rent and utility bills, provide food for their families, or get health coverage or help for mental health and emotional issues they may face through the holiday season.

"The holidays are a joyous time, but they can also be a stressful time for those who are worried about not being able to pay their bills, go to the doctor, or put food on the table," said Acting Secretary Meg Snead. "It is important for Pennsylvanians who may be experiencing hard times to know that they are not alone, and help is available through a variety of state and federal resources. DHS is here to help, and I urge anyone who needs it to contact us and find out if they are eligible for heating assistance, food assistance, rental and utility payment assistance, and much more."

The following programs are available to help Pennsylvanians:

—Low-Income Home Energy Assistance Program (LIHEAP) provides assistance to renters and homeowners by helping eligible individuals and families with low incomes to pay their heating bills. The 2021-2022 LIHEAP season has been extended for this year and is open to cover expenses from October 18, 2021, to May 6, 2022.

—Emergency Rental Assistance Program (ERAP) is available in all of Pennsylvania's 67 counties to help eligible tenants receive up to 18 months of assistance for overdue or upcoming rental and utility payments. Either tenants or landlords can apply for this assistance, but a tenant does not need a landlord's permission to apply and use ERAP funds.

—Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) formerly known as food stamps, helps Pennsylvanians by providing money each month for groceries. SNAP is our country's most important and most impactful anti-hunger program.—Medical Assistance and the Children's Health Insurance Program help Pennsylvanians access quality, affordable health coverage, ensuring that they do not have to forego necessary routine, preventive, or critical physical and mental health care due to being uninsured, especially during cold and flu season or during the ongoing pandemic.

—Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) is a cash assistance program for low-income families with dependent children or people who are pregnant. TANF is designed to help families meet essential needs while connecting parents to employment, training, and education programs that can help the family improve their circumstances and move out of poverty.

All Pennsylvanians experiencing financial hardships due to the pandemic, a lost job, or a change in income are strongly encouraged to apply and see if they qualify for assistance with food, health care, and other essential needs.

So get into the spirit of giving and help your fellow human beings who so desperately need help.

God bless us every one.

Reach Bill O'Boyle at 570-991-6118 or on Twitter @TLBillOBoyle, or email at [email protected]

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