Salvation Army helps with utility bills

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First at Five, October 9, 2008

AUGUSTA, Ga.---It's getting tougher for some people to pay their bills. Georgia Power says they've had to cut off more electricity because of it, but there's a way to get some help.

Project Share is a way to help keep you connected. As more people are getting those final notices, more people are trying to get that assistance.

"It's heart-pounding," said Altramese Gerald. "It's a bad feeling to know that your lights, might be getting cut off."

Gerald is a working mother of two. She says that's not an easy job in itself, which is why a few months ago she needed help keeping her power on.

"You got to think about gas. You got to think about food expenses. You got to think about lights," said Gerald. "You got to think about those other bills you have, but then you're making but so much."

Georgia Power says more and more people have had a tougher time like Gerald.

They say they've seen an 11% increase in disconnects, this year compared to last year.

Georgia Power has a way to help, though. They collect donations with people's power bills, and put the donations toward Project Share.

The money goes to the Salvation Army, who helps people like Gerald when they have a final notice.

"We've definitely seen an increase, I mean we're seeing increases in all our service needs," said Development Director Rebecca Wallace says people with power bills totalling about $10,000 a month come in looking for assistance, and she's seen a different clientelle lately.

"People who at a time felt like they would never need that type of assistance are now having to come in and ask for help," said Wallace.

"I do try to do it on my own, but sometimes people fall in little jams and stuff," said Gerald.

With more people finding themselves in a pinch for power, Project Share gives a glimmer of hope the lights will stay on.

Georgia Power customers can find a place on their bill to donate some money every month.

It's not just in Georgia, too. SCE&G also has a Project Share. They will start giving assistance Nov. 5. Contact your local community action agency to apply.

Georgia Power customers seeking assistance should call (706) 826-7937.

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