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United Way of Central Texas is helping families pay their bills through the COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.

“The COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund is available to help meet the immediate needs of the individuals and families directly impacted by this pandemic,” the agency said.

United Way of Central Texas President Stephanie O’Banion told the Telegram how the agency has helped 50 families as of Tuesday — 15 of whom reside in Temple.

“We haven’t had anyone not be approved,” O’Banion said. “We have a few that came in that are pending, but the word is really getting out and we’re getting more applications in.”

O’Banion said the application packet, which includes an employment status verification form, is available on their website at https://bit.ly/2VUEkt5. Donors also can use this link to access their COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund donation portal.

“It’s available online and in paper form,” she said. “Most applicants have been filling it out online, or printing it and filling it out by hand. But then they send it to us via email” at covidrelief@uwct.org.

O’Banion highlighted how United Way workers have been making arrangements to meet applicants — who may lack internet service — so they can drop off completed applications at their office.

“That’s exactly why we make arrangements to meet people … So that we can get their paperwork,” O’Banion said. “We’re always concerned about families and individuals who may or may not have access to the internet, so we want to make sure there’s a process for them.”

O’Banion said the money that a family or individual receives is based on their particular needs.

“We don’t base anything off of the size of the family. It’s strictly based off their needs,” she said. “All of the individuals have had a loss of a job or something that has impacted their income. So we are primarily paying rent, mortgage and utilities.”

United Way of Central Texas has raised about $60,000 toward this fund, and has received donations from individual donors as well as corporations.

“We’ve been communicating and coordinating this effort, so that everyone — at least in Bell County — has some sort of resource to go to,” O’Banion said.

United Way of Central Texas also partnered with Temple and Belton to administer more funds to residents.

“We’ve also contracted with the city of Belton, who has done $10,000 to help city of Belton residents with their utility bill,” O’Banion said. “And then we’re also partnering with the city of Temple. We’re administering those Community Development Block Grant funds ... which most of that is for individuals and families.”

O’Banion said it is great to see these local entities collaborate with each other, so more residents in need can be reached.

“We’ve been communicating and coordinating this effort so that everyone at least in Bell County has some sort of resource to go to,” she said.

The agency is at 4 N. Third St. in downtown Temple.