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Two area service groups to receive relief grants

on February 01, 2014 10:44 AM

GREENSBURG — Six service organizations in the Diocese of Greensburg that provide food and fuel assistance to people in need and help families with infants and children will receive grants totaling $51,560 from the Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund.

The recipients are: the Chevy Chase Community Action Center after-school program, Indiana, $6,560; the St. Thomas More University Parish, Indiana, $5,000 for the emergency food closet; Christian Layman Corps, Greensburg, $10,000 for its “A Bed for Every Child” program; the St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference of St. Paul Parish, Greensburg, $10,000 for its super fuel funds assistance program; the Westmoreland County Food Bank, Delmont, $10,000; and the Fayette County Community Action Agency, Uniontown, $10,000 for the county food bank.

The Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund grants are made possible by the people of the diocese through a collection taken at parishes the weekend before Thanksgiving.

Since its inception, the fund has awarded more than $154,000 in grants to groups in the diocese, according to Judy Modecki, director of development and community relations for Catholic Charities.

“The main philosophy of the Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund grant program is to do something concrete for organizations that are working to help people raise themselves out of poverty,” said Msgr. Raymond E. Riffle, managing director of Catholic Charities for the Diocese of Greensburg, which administers the program.

“These six grants will help provide food and fuel to people in need and support a program that helps families with infants and young children,” he said.

Food banks and heating assistance programs have been especially hard hit by the economic downturn in recent years, and there is not enough money coming from the federal or state government to meet the need, said Hollie Uccellini, chairperson of the Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund committee.

“More and more people are in need, and these programs all help provide basic necessities,” she said of the grant recipients.

The Chevy Chase Community Action Center will use its grant to help children living in poverty in rural areas of Indiana County through its after-school program. The center offers homework assistance, hot meals and educational enrichment activities. The grant will also help support activities that focus on health, nutrition and wellness.

The St. Thomas More University Parish emergency food closet will use its grant on gift cards that will be provided through the “Manna Card” program for food closet clients so they can purchase perishable items such as fresh fruits, vegetables and meat at local supermarkets in order to supplement the nonperishable items they receive from the food pantry.

The Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund was introduced by Greensburg Bishop Lawrence E. Brandt at the 2010 Communities of Salt and Light Award Dinner. The application deadline for the next round of grant funding is May 1 for June funding, Modecki said. For information and a grant application, go to ccharitiesgreensburg.org.

The Christian Layman Corps will use its grant to provide 25 complete bed sets and two complete crib sets to children in Westmoreland County. Children who do not have a bed to sleep in can be taken from their family by local agencies and placed in foster care.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society Conference of St. Paul Parish will use its grant to provide heating fuel for families in need.

The conference was able to help 159 families and individuals with their heating needs with the Diocesan Poverty Relief Fund grant it was awarded last year and hopes to help a similar number this year.

The Westmoreland County Food Bank will use its grant to buy food and distribute it to local food pantries.

The Fayette County Community Action Agency will use its grant to maintain the truck it uses to distribute food to the county’s 49 food pantries and to purchase food.

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