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More Weston Families Need Financial Help

Weston's Social Services Fund, which supplies basic necessities to families with financial need, is almost depleted after this past winter, according to Charlene Chiang-Hillman, social services director. A fund appeal will be sent to residents along with tax bills to try to raise $18,000 before the heating season starts.

"It's still very hard here in Weston," said Chiang-Hillman. "The food pantry is stocked every six days and it is almost down to the bare shelves when it is restocked." She estimated 100 families use the food pantry in Weston. "There is a great need in Weston."

Since June 2010, 37 more households have signed up with the Social Services Department, making a total of 227 households served. In 2007, four Weston families were on food stamps, and in 2010 there were 32 families.

The fund provides basic necessities such as heat, hot water, electricity and food. The Weston Young Women's League has already donated money for the fundraiser  and the Weston Warm-Up Fund "helps enormously" with heat needs, said Chiang-Hillman.

The Warm-Up Fund expects to provide assistance to 53 families in the amount of $105,000 for 2011, according to Dawn Egan, chairwoman. The Board of Selectmen recently granted the Warm-Up Fund $8,000, an increase of $2,000 from last fiscal year. The average income of the recipient families is $24,274. Thirty-four have at least one individual over 65, and 20 have a child or children under 21. Twelve recipients have experienced a job loss in the past two years.

At Weston Social Services, 77 children 18 and under are in financial need households, and there are 40 senior households in financial need, said Chiang-Hillman. Connecticut Light & Power won't shut off electricity between November and April, but on May 1 shut-off notices "come flying out," said Chiang-Hillman, and families look for financial assistance.

More children are also receiving waivers for summer camps, said Kristin Ferrara, youth services director. She expects the number of waivers to equal about $8,000 this year. Each family in need is allowed one camp waiver per session. Ferrara also gives waivers for camps with the Weston Parks & Recreation, and the Westport Weston Family Y has accepted many waivers for one week at Camp Mahackeno.

For more information about Weston Social Services , contact Charlene Chiang-Hillman at (203) 222-2663.

How do you help Weston families in need? Where does your family turn when you need assistance? Send your comments to shenry@thedailyweston.com.

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