Red Cross offers help with utility bills

By Krystal Allan – bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Now more than ever, people are looking for help paying their utility bills. There is a program run by the American Red Cross and paid for by donations from Coast Electric and Mississippi Power customers trying to help.

"Coast Electric has a program called Share My Blessing and Mississippi Power has Share Project," said Robert Beebe with the American Red Cross.

To be eligible, you have to be 62 or older, disabled or have an emergency situation, like an unexpected bill from a medical issue. But Beebe said the organization can consider situations outside the scope of those guidelines on a case by case basis.

"If Dad's deployed overseas and something has happened and Mom needs the money real quick for the utilities, we can help on that," Beebe said.

He said unemployment isn't necessarily considered an emergency situation, but the group has helped in some situations when people have found themselves out of work.  The Red Cross can pay up to $50 on Coast Electric bills and $100 for Mississippi Power bills.

When the Red Cross can't step in, Beebe suggests checking into other places like the Salvation Army.

"You're not limited to just one agency. It's nice to go out and say, 'I went to the Red Cross and got $100, and I only need $70 more. That way the agencies know the individual is trying to help themselves."

For those who want to help, they can simply indicate their donation on top of their Mississippi Power bill.

"Donate a dollar, two dollars or five dollars. The more that you do, the more you'll help the people that really need this assistance."

The Red Cross has the resources to help about 21 people a week across the three coastal counties. One thing to note, you can only receive help once a year.

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