United Way of Bedford County

Wednesday marks the start of United Way of Bedford County’s Annual Campaign. This year, their goal is to raise $150,000 for local non-profits.

The United Way of Bedford County has created a new fund to help those struggling during the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

The Emergency Impact Fund will go toward essential health and human services, including food, utilities, housing, childcare, home visiting programs, counseling services and access to medical care.

“We want to get money out to the places that really need it,” said Katie Fink, executive director.

Fink said the United Way will be working with the Center for Community Action and other partner agencies to identify needs. She said food and shelter are at the top of the list of concerns.

The organization is expecting the demand for emergency financial assistance to increase substantially in the months ahead.

“I think this is going to get worse before it gets better,” she said.

The restrictions in place to mitigate the spread of the coronavirus, including the statewide shutdown of a number of businesses, has left an impact on the economy and affected residents’ daily lives.

Fink said all money raised through the Emergency Impact Fund will go toward providing critical services for residents. None of the money will go toward operational costs.

The creation of the fund came after some local businesses had reached out seeking ways to help, Fink said. The United Way had previously been using funding the the Community Foundation of the Alleghenies to assist with housing concerns.

Donations to the emergency fund can be made by mailing a check with the memo “Emergency Fund” to the United Way office 119 E. Penn St., Bedford, PA 15522, or on the organization’s website at www.uwaybedfordpa.org.

Fink said there is no campaign goal for the fund and said donations of all sizes can help during a time of “unprecedented” need.

“We’re thankful for any donation,” she said.

The United Way remains operational during the shutdowns.

Fink said the organization is serving as a resource for community members residents. She said the United Way’s 2-1-1 community resource number has had triple the number of phone calls during the pandemic. The phone line connects residents to agencies dealing with supplemental food and nutrition programs, shelter and housing, emergency information, employment and education opportunities, services for veterans, health care, addiction, mental illness and domestic abuse.

“People also can call our local office,” Fink said. “We’ll try to answer any questions we can and get people what they need.”

While the local United Way office remains open, Fink said the pande mic has created some changes for the organization.

She said she has some concerns about the organizations’ annual campaign due to the virus. The organization has been unable to host its scheduled fundraisers due to the shutdown and social distancing guidelines. Fink said the campaign also relies on payroll deductions from donors.

“That’s going to get tougher for people to do,” she said.

The annual “Day of Caring” scheduled for April 9 was postponed until either May or June. Fink said she is still hopeful the annual event will happen.

“I’d still like to do the program because it helps so many senior citizens,” she said. “We’ll wait and see what happens.”

Contact Will DeShong at wdeshong@bedfordgazette.com; 623-1151, ext. 150.

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