MOULTRIE — The City of Moultrie made its first donation to the Southwest Georgia Community Action Council’s (CAC) Utility Assistance Program Thursday. While the donation was greatly appreciated, CAC officials said much more is needed to give help to those in need.

CNS Director and former assistant city manager Lance Arnett said the city collects funds for the assistance program through monthly utility bills. Moultrie residents can choose to add any amount to the utility bill and donate to the fund, which will be given to the CAC.

Since the program was started in October, Arnett said the city has raised $1,661.50, which was given to the CAC Thursday to administer the assistance. There have been fewer than 80 regular contributing customers to the program.

Harvie Ann Cox, chairman of the CAC’s Emergency Relief Board, said the program provides help to those who need emergency help in paying utility or medical bills. The board is pleased to receive the help from the city, but she believes more support from the community can go a very long way.

“If everyone would give just one dollar a month,” Cox said, “it’s amazing how many people we could help.”

The program is an education program just as much as it is an assistance program, Cox said. The CAC helps educate people about their utilities through energy audits, looking at things such as how homes get heated, possible water leaks and amount of insulation. People also receive counseling to help get them out of debt and able to stand on their own feet financially.

The CAC receives additional support from the Colquitt County Interdenominational Christian Alliance, and Cox said she would like more churches to provide support. Rather than giving someone money who comes asking at a church, she would like those churches to refer them to the CAC to verify their need.

“We have a very thorough screening process,” Cox said. “Money is not given directly to a person, but we pay their bills for them. You just never know if a person really pays their bills with money given to them or not.”

Cox said anyone who receives a City of Moultrie utility bill can help by making a donation. There is a place on the bill asking if they would like to have a $1, $2, $5 or any other amount donation added to their bill for the program.

“It’s a small price to pay to know you’re helping someone,” Cox said. “It’s our moral responsibility to help those in need.”

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