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Colder weather has some seeking help
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Frank Moore, right, and Ashley Chilvers hand out lunches at Good News at Noon Tuesday. The cooler weather has caused some local agencies to see an increase in people seeking help from the cold. - photo by Tom Reed

Fall has set in very rapidly and with it comes lower temperatures that have caused some area agencies to see an increase of people needing their services to battle the cold.

Ninth District Opportunity, Northeast Georgia's community action agency, does not begin its heating assistance program until Nov. 1, but that hasn't stopped people from checking.

"We have people calling on a daily basis now," said Brenda Dalin, program coordinator for Ninth District Opportunity.

Dalin said the quick change of seasons has been hard on people who are still trying to pay for this summer's expensive cooling costs.

"Some of the power bills we're seeing are so extremely high, it takes a number of different organizations to cover them," Dalin said. "A lot of partners, churches and other organizations that provide assistance, their funds have been depleted by this time of year."

The economy has also increased the demand for assistance, Dalin said.

"We've had some families call in that have been relocated and have moved into apartments or housing that don't have a heat source at all," Dalin said.
"People have lost jobs, their unemployment benefits have run out and they're just desperately seeking assistance with the basic necessities."

In Ninth District Opportunity's 2009 fiscal year, the organization provided 12,102 people with energy assistance. The following year, 15,406 were served.

"We've had a steady increase over the years in demand," Dalin said.

Josh Ramey, the front desk supervisor at Good News at Noon, said a lot more people are coming in now that it's cold.

"People will call in looking for a place to stay and a lot of people try to come in earlier than when we open for meals because it's cold outside," Ramey said. "People want to come in and get coffee and food earlier because they want to stand in here where it's warm."

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