Project Share benefits elderly, disabled

Published 9:03 pm Thursday, June 30, 2011

By Alison McFerrin

The Selma Times-Journal

Electric bills often soar in the heat of summer, but the American Red Cross is looking to help a few individuals who need it.

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“This grant is specifically toward those who are elderly and those who are disabled,” Selma Red Cross Executive Director Jakki Phillips said.

The program, Project Share, has been in existence since 1982, born out of an agreement between Alabama Power Company and the American Red Cross.

“Because the funds are extremely limited, we’ll probably only be able to help about 55 clients or less,” Phillips said. “With the economy being the way, people are just not giving the same level of assistance as they have in the past.”

In order to qualify for the funds, individuals must have a medical statement from their physician verifying the individual has a life-threatening illness without power, and the family income must be within certain guidelines depending on the size of the household. In addition, the head of the household must meet one of the following eligibility criteria: 62 years of age or older, and/or receiving a disability check, according to the American Red Cross Press Release.

“Once the funds have been exhausted, they’re exhausted until the next season,” Phillips said. “The only thing we try to do is not duplicate the same clients. We try to be as diverse as possible.”

Project Share goes into effect in the summer as well as the winter.

Jan Ellis, company spokesperson for Alabama Power Company, said this is a great program for the community.

“We do feel it’s a great opportunity to give back to those who are in need,” Ellis said. “We encourage customers to check the box on their power bill and give a little every month.”

The money comes from donations from other Alabama Power Company customers, who can choose to donate as little as $1 per month to the cause.

To request assistance from the Project Share program, interested people can call the American Red Cross at 334-874-4641 on July 11. Phillips said they will have four lines set up to receive all the calls.

“We do not take any walk in or walk up appointments,” Phillips said. “It has to be done over the phone.”

Participants are selected on a first-come, first-served basis, and Phillips said they will likely exhaust all available funds on July 11, with each program participant receiving $100 toward electricity bills.