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St. Nick adds funds to flood relief effort

Another $10,000 available as grants

Published: Thursday, May 16, 2013 10:25 a.m. CDT

Operation St. Nick has designated $10,000 more toward assisting victims of the April 18 flood.

Operation St. Nick, We Care of Grundy County, and the Community Foundation of Grundy County all pulled together to offer an initial $55,000 in mini grants to help those suffering from the flood. This money became available just days after the flood.

As of Monday, 50 families had been assisted by the original $30,000 from St. Nick and the Community Foundation of Grundy County, said Joe Schmitz, president and founder of Operation St. Nick. Of the 50 families, 20 were from Shady Oaks trailer park in Minooka.

We Care is supplying its $25,000 in federal funding for its Emergency Food and Shelter Program. It currently has about $4,000 left, said Executive Director Denise Gaska. The emergency program money has to be used by the end of the month, but We Care will still be able to assist with rent assistance for those who qualify for We Care’s regular programs.

The Emergency Food and Shelter Program money is more restricted and based on income, but for those who apply who make a higher income than We Care usually assists with, the funding from St. Nick and the Community Foundation is utilized.

The grants are to be used for mortgage or rent payments in order to free up money for families to use what they would normally pay for their home toward repairs or replacing necessities.

The grants can also be applied for to buy food, clothing, appliances or other necessities lost due to the flooding, said Schmitz.

And now St. Nick is offering $10,000 more.

“We Care still had applications coming in, so I called the board and we voted to add another $10,000,” said Schmitz.

Since its board promised this Monday, almost $3,000 has been used already.

Their assistance is just to help victims of the flooding to pull through while they work with insurance and wait for Federal Emergency Management Agency assistance, said Schmitz.

“We are kind of putting a Band-Aid on it,” said Schmitz.

Since President Barack Obama declared Grundy County and 10 other Illinois counties as major disaster areas, residents affected by the flood are eligible to apply for FEMA grants and low-interest federal loans to help them recover.

On average, Schmitz said, from the St. Nick and Community Foundation donations, people without children are getting $500 gift cards and those with children about $1,000. The lowest given out has been $300 and the highest $1,500.

We Care is handling the eight-page application for the grants, which includes having to turn in photos of the damage to homes or property.

Applications can be picked up at We Care, 520 W. Illinois Ave, at any of the Standard Bank locations in Grundy County, or they can be accessed online at www.cfgrundycounty.com.

For more information, call We Care at (815) 942-6389.

To apply for FEMA funding, call FEMA at 1-800-621-FEMA (3362) or registration can be done online at www.disasterassistance.gov.

“I think we have learned a lot from this whole process,” said Schmitz. “This is the first step, hopefully, toward forming a countywide disaster relief fund so if we’re hit by a tornado, flood or any disaster again, we can move in and help.”

To ensure there are funds for the future, Standard Bank’s annual Grundy County Community Night at White Sox park to benefit Operation St. Nick will go toward its disaster fund this year.

This is the fifth year for this event. Previous years, the funds have gone toward Operation St. Nick’s Back to School program.

The bank has 200 tickets available for $39 each to the Tuesday, June 25, night game against the New York Mets.

The price includes the ticket and transportation by bus to and from the game. The bank donates $5 of each ticket to St. Nick, said Schmitz.

Tickets can be purchased at any of the Standard Bank locations.

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