A $1,000 grant from Hallmark Cards is providing emergency rent and utility aid to Douglas County residents during the Emergency Services Council's three-week hiatus.
The generosity of Hallmark Cards will help a small number of needy Douglas County residents pay utility and rent bills through the holiday season.
In anticipation that the Emergency Services Council in Douglas County would temporary stop processing applications in December, Ballard Community Center secured a $1,000 grant from Hallmark to help fill the void until mid-January. Hallmark has a production plant in Lawrence.
Dianne Ensminger, executive director of the Ballard Center, said Tuesday that demand for emergency aid, the focus of ESC in Douglas County, had escalated in the past several months. Need for support is three times available resources, she said.
"What we're finding is that some of this isn't one particular population," Ensminger said. "It's not just elderly. It's not just young mothers caught up in welfare reform. It's couples. It's people who have lost jobs."
ESC is a coalition of Douglas County agencies that pool money to more efficiently assist residents. Applications are funneled to the council from participating agencies, including the Ballard Center.
The volunteer council typically takes applications one week and makes grants the following week. The holidays prompted the council to stop handling requests from mid-December to early January.
Lt. Carolyn Schuetz of the Salvation Army said the Hallmark money was appreciated. Assistance from the grant is limited to $100 for each applicant. Despite the low cap, the money will run out.
"It doesn't go far," she said.
Schuetz said ESC did not have funding to adequately address county residents in need.
"There's a lot of gaps in rent and utility assistance," she said. "It is greater than what ESC can do. If we had a bigger pool to draw from, we could make a bigger difference."
-- Tim Carpenter's phone message number is 832-7155. His e-mail address is email@example.com.