Need help over holidays? United Way sets registration

United Way’s 211 Holiday Helpline is set up to provide holiday assistance registration for Columbus programs that help families during the Christmas season.

Registration opens Monday for families seeking help from Community Center of Hope Angel Tree, the Fireman’s Cheer Fund, Shop with a Cop, Love Chapel Holiday Food Pantry and Toys for Tots, among other private organizations, said Alicia Monroe, director of United Way 211.

Families who need help with holiday gifts or food may contact the helpline through Dec. 8 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays to register for assistance, Monroe said.

The Holiday Help Line is 812-375-2216. Su Casa Columbus is offering registration help for Spanish-speaking individuals at 812-375-9370.

Volunteers are expecting to answer an estimated 1,300 to 1,400 calls through the helpline this season, Monroe said. Overall, an estimated 1,800 to 1,900 families are expected to apply for some sort of assistance, some of which will seek help directly with an agency, she said.

Each program has different criteria and volunteers will assist families in determining what they may qualify for during registration, Monroe said. Some programs have restrictions based on age of children, or residence location, and volunteers will explain the restrictions to each caller, she said. Some programs also have a limit to the number of people who can be assisted, and callers will be directed to other programs as some fill up.

If a family qualifies for more than one program, the person registering will be asked to choose which program they want to apply to, she said. United Way 211 then puts the data into a notification to the programs to let them know which families are being assisted by which program.

The Fireman’s Cheer Fund takes a large number of families each year, Monroe said, helping about 42 percent of the children who are signed up for holiday assistance.

United Way 211 still is looking for volunteers who are interested in helping with registration, Monroe said. Shifts are 90 minutes to two hours long, and individuals may volunteer as much or as little as they wish.

Although the agency will take as many volunteers as it can find to help, Monroe said at least 30 to 35 people are needed to fill all the time slots between Monday and Dec. 8.

Anyone interested in volunteering or seeking more information should contact Dede Parker, United Way volunteer resource manager, at 812-376-0011 or email dparker@uwbarthco.org.

Where to call for help

Families who need help with holiday gifts or food may contact the helpline from Monday through Dec. 8 between 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. Mondays through Fridays to register for assistance.

The Holiday Help Line is 812-375-2216.

Su Casa Columbus is offering registration help for Spanish-speaking residents at 812-375-9370.

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Julie McClure is assistant managing editor of The Republic. She can be reached at jmcclure@therepublic.com or (812) 379-5631.