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What is Brunswick Family Assistance?

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By Stacey Manning, Managing Editor

By Stacey Manning

Managing Editor

In 2007, Brunswick Family Assistance (BFA), a community nonprofit organization, helped 4,500 families—about 15,000 individuals. By the end of 2008, BFA officials estimate they’ll serve 5,500 households or 18,000 clients.

Residents who meet certain poverty standards can apply to BFA for its services. Through referrals from area churches, the Department of Social Services and on-site walk-ins, BFA helps hungry families with food from its food pantry, commodities program and youth summer feeding project, and offers help with shelter, clothing and utility needs.

Food

BFA has a food pantry at 4600-8 Main Street in Twin Creek Plaza in Shallotte, and recently began food distribution in Leland at Victory Free Will Baptist Church. It also coordinates the federal food commodities distribution service in Bolivia.

Qualified families may visit a BFA food pantry up to four times a year. Food comes from local contributions, BFA purchases and some business donations. Commodities distribution is through a federal USDA program.

Emergency Assistance

Individuals facing emergency financial crises can apply for help with utility, rent or mortgage payments, as well as prescriptions, transportation and other immediate needs.

Payments are made directly to service providers and, in most cases, those who are able are expected to make repayment to BFA in increments and levels deemed appropriate by the organization.

Clothing

Clothing and household goods are available through BFA’s Family Thrift Store.

In Twin Creek Plaza in Shallotte, the store takes community donations to meet residents’ needs and to keep the store in operation.

Homelessness

There are homeless families in Brunswick County, and they can receive assistance through BFA. As part of the E. Richard Gerety Supportive Housing Program and the HUD McKinney Program, those in need can be provided with services that include housing placement and counseling to overcome problems that caused homelessness.

Christmas program

Each year, BFA provides Christmas gifts and food to needy Brunswick County families. Applications are accepted from mid-October to mid-November.

Once applicants are approved, family members younger than 18 or seniors older than 60 can make three holiday wishes. Those wishes are transferred to gift tags that are placed on Christmas trees throughout the community. Donors select a tag and purchase gifts, and BFA then distributes them, along with food, to qualified families.

Gifts will be distributed at the old Mirror Lite building on Smith Avenue in Shallotte. Distribution for senior participants is set for Dec. 16. The family distribution will be Dec. 17.

This program serves about 1,000 seniors and families each year.

Christmas in July

BFA also provides assistance for families to help with school clothes, supplies and food. On a limited basis the organization provides help for school needs each August.

Disaster Assistance

In the event of a natural disaster, BFA is available to provide emergency food and supplies. It can also help in rebuilding destroyed homes after all other assistance has been sought.

Summer Youth Feeding Program

New in 2008, BFA launched its summer youth feeding program by providing free breakfast and lunch to students who qualify for free or reduced meals at school.

At seven sites throughout the county, BFA served more than 8,000 meals to area children.