Summit County Cares is midway through its holiday campaign in a year of record-breaking need at the Family Intercultural Resource Center.
Summit County Cares is the largest emergency assistance fund in the county, with 100 percent of donations supporting locals facing emergencies such as eviction, disconnection of heat and electricity or are in need of medical care.
November has been a particularly harsh month in 2012, said Tamara Drangstveit, executive director of FIRC. A poor snow season last year combined with a sluggish start this year has put a number of Summit County residents in need of assistance.
"It gets exacerbated when you don't see your 40 hours," said Drangstveit. "It's just been a brutal fall."
In November, 26 households in the county were given rent or mortgage assistance, which is the highest it's been since 2009. Five households received utilities aid, the highest number for the month of November. Food bank visits increased the most, with 220 visits, and also broke November records.
Unlike social service organizations that give long-term help, the aim of FIRC is to offer assistance for one-time crises. The majority of people who receive assistance from FIRC happen to be at a difficult point in their life and use the assistance to move on to a more stable lifestyle. Rent assistance, for example, is given only once each year and only twice every five years.
The holiday campaign stretches from Nov. 1 to Dec. 31. This week, which FIRC is calling the Week of Care, features various opportunities to assist Summit County Cares. Wednesday's event had "Dine Out to Donate," which had several county restaurants donating 20 percent of their evening sales to FIRC. At the Lighting of Dillon event tonight, 100 percent of the proceeds of the Christmas tree and wreath auction will be donated to FIRC. Friday features a toy and coat drive at Walmart. Frisco's Santa Dash for Cash Saturday will donate $500 to Summit County Cares for every 100 participants.
So far in 2012, 181 households have received rent or mortgage assistance and 1,791 individuals visited the food bank. Nov. 29 marked one of the most-visited days on record for the food bank, with 42 people. For those considering donating to the food bank, Drangstveit suggests donating money rather than food. While canned food donations are appreciated, Drangstveit says that FIRC can use money donations to buy food at a discount from the Food Bank of the Rockies, thus receiving the maximum value for cost.