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Charities feel financial crunch as waiting lists grow across the Lowcountry

Updated: Jun. 12, 2020 at 5:58 PM EDT
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NORTH CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCSC) - Charities across the Lowcountry are feeling a greater crunch for cash as more people call in for rent and utility assistance during the coronavirus pandemic.

Veteran Bernard King has been living without water or electricity for months, and his financial struggles only deepened during the pandemic. When he started calling charities for utility help he soon realized that nonprofits are being spread financially thin.

“It’s been kind of hard," King said. "I was doing without light and water and stuff like that. I was calling a long time and I would sit on the phone and they would tell me that they didn’t have the money to account for stuff like that.”

King is one of many.

Cathy Easley, director of integrated community systems at Trident United Way, says she’s seen a continual increase in calls for financial assistance as they try to supply grants to other smaller non-profits.

“I would consider this the model part of a disaster,” Easley said. “So it starts with people needing food and then as bills come due, then they need those bills paid. Right now, the largest request is for rent and utilities.”

Bill Storey, director at the Lowcountry Hope Center, says he has more than 60 families on a waiting list for financial assistance, but cash will run out.

“We received three grants for so far. For us, they’re good because any little bit will help. But the demand has just been overwhelming,” Storey said. “And we just received another $15,000. But we suspect given our backlog and some on the waiting list, we will be done within the week.”

Community leader, Rev. Christian King, stepped in to help Bernard King find utility assistance.

She says he is one of many examples in the struggle to find, and provide, financial help during the pandemic.

“It’s coming back down into the community for those right down at the level who knows it and having to go through and work together to resolve it,” Christian King said.

Christian King said they hit a breakthrough Friday afternoon as the Marine Corps League of the Lowcountry decided to pay in full the remaining utilities giving Bernard King a fresh start.

“That makes me feel good, I’m thankful for them,” Bernard King said.

“That’s one of our main missions is to help our fellow veterans and make sure their quality of life is where it should be,” said Helen Breen with the Lowcountry Marine Corps League.

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