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From the Cape cod Times November 22, 2022
"As the holiday season draws nearer, budgets grow tighter and the impacts of inflation and high costs of living can put a strain on Cape Codders trying to make ends meet.
The Cape Cod Times Needy Fund kicks off its holiday fundraising campaign Sunday and plans to raise $1.55 million to help a growing number of Cape and Island residents facing emergency financial need.
"We are looking forward to this year's fundraiser, and we're so fortunate to have such a generous community," Needy Fund Executive Director Susan Johnson said. "Last year, we raised an incredible amount of money, well over our goal, that has all gone 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 just over the summer ― and was able to put the donations to use providing short-term financial assistance and long-term resource support referrals for those in need.
"We really smashed our goal last year," Johnson said, "and are hoping to do it again this year."
Over the past year, the volume of client requests has increased dramatically, with the fund receiving more than 7,500 requests for assistance so far this year and providing direct financial assistance to more than 4,000 clients, she said.
For perspective, last year at this time, the fund had received about 5,600 requests from clients, and provided financial assistance to about 2,600 of those, Johnson said.
The Needy Fund provides emergency financial assistance regardless of whether a client qualifies for financial assistance, she said, and works with a network of organizations across the region to help every person who contacts the fund for aid.
Winter weather changes and challengesAs the winter months loom, Johnson said fund administrators are bracing for an increase in requests to help with heating costs that are expected to rise between 30% to 60% this winter. Equally as pressing, though, are requests to assist with food insecurity and rent or mortgage payments. Food and housing assistance tend to make up the highest number of requests coming into the Needy Fund year-round, she said.
"You know what your mortgage payment is going to be, or your car payment or your gas, so the only place you have wiggle room is your food budget," Johnson said. "That’s the only place you can take money out of for other things. The question then is, do you feed your family healthy food that's going to make them full, or heat your house or pay your rent? It sounds drastic, but it’s reality."
Another trend the fund has seen over the past year is an increase in requests from community members who earn too much to qualify for state or federal assistance programs, but still struggle to make ends meet, Johnson said.
Sky-high inflation coupled with a lack of affordable housing on the Cape and Islands, the region's generally high cost of living has put the pinch on families who, from the outside, appear to be earning enough to make ends meet.
Meanwhile, child care is another issue Johnson said the Needy Fund has been providing assistance with. The lack of affordable child care on the Cape and Islands leaves even dual-income households struggling.
"We might have two parents who make good money, but they’d have to quit their jobs to stay home with the kids because they can’t afford child care," she said. "They don’t want to quit their jobs, of course, but because of the increasing cost of child care and the lack of options, they might not have a choice."
Johnson lauded the community for its donations last year, and hoped residents will continue to donate to the Needy Fund to provide direct help to their neighbors.
"Cape Codders are traditionally generous and supportive of other Cape Codders who struggle to make ends meet," said Peter Meyer, president emeritus of the Needy Fund. "We are confident that the spirit of giving and compassion for others will again lift the Needy Fund to achieve its fundraising goal. Thank you all for helping the Needy Fund give a hand up to those experiencing temporary financial hardship."
The fund’s first mission was to provide Thanksgiving dinners to the neediest families on Cape Cod. Now, the Needy Fund provides the residents of Cape Cod and the Islands with financial assistance for a range of basic human needs when they fall on tough times.
The Needy Fund is here to help families and individuals through cancer, car accidents, family deaths, job loss, temporary and permanent disabilities, serious childhood illnesses, fire, spousal abandonment and many other urgent situations all year long.
The Needy Fund is a community partner. Sometimes, the crisis is too big for one agency to handle. We network and partner with many local agencies to get people through the toughest of times.
The Needy Fund is a tax-exempt 501(c)3 organization. Contributions to the Needy Fund are tax-deductible as charitable contributions as defined under state and federal laws. You may be able to double your donation through your employee matching gifts program. Please inquire at your company. Donors who contribute $250.00 or more will receive a letter of receipt from the Needy Fund by mail for IRS tax purposes.
The Needy Fund is open year round, Monday through Friday.
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