Although many of us have been spared the economic impact of recent inflation and record high food and fuel costs, hundreds of our local St. Croix County neighbors have not been as fortunate.
Since the first of the year, Operation HELP has received more than 260 applications for rent, utility, or car repair assistance—nearly 90 each month. Applicants come from Baldwin, Emerald, Glenwood City, Hammond, Houlton, Hudson, New Richmond, River Falls, Roberts, Somerset, Star Prairie, and Woodville. Others are homeless. The reasons for financial hardships are many—
“I only have 1 vehicle and I am a single parent working Mon-Friday. Have put a lot of money towards repairs but it needs more work. Repairs are $804.92.”
“I need help paying my $1,400 rent. February had multiple snow days at my child’s school causing me to miss work and severely affecting my income.”
“I got a medical bill in the mail for $550. I am currently trying to work out a payment plan with the doctor. I am also the only one in the household who works and we’re taking care of two toddlers.”
Operation HELP aims to provide a helping hand during times of need to those who are struggling to make ends meet. In addition to financial assistance, clients may stop by our Resource Center to receive basic necessity items such as toiletries, socks and underwear, diapers, pet food, vouchers for clothing, farmer's market vouchers, gas cards, and laundry vouchers. We also connect people with other agencies or services, such as local food shelves and social service agencies. Operation HELP is a volunteer-driven program with nearly 50 volunteers staffing our resource center and working behind the scenes to provide clients with help.
But it’s not always easy. Recent spikes in fuel, food, and housing costs continue to put financial pressure on households that were “just getting by” even before inflation and the rising cost of living. In January of this year, we reached a 30-year record-high in emergency financial assistance requests. Since the first of the year, payouts for rent, utility, or car repair assistance have been 37 percent greater than budgeted projections.
To continue this important work, we need your help. Please consider donating today or visit us online at www.operationhelpstcroix.org.