NORFOLK — The Hampton Roads Command of The Salvation Army is offering financial assistance to affected coast guard and government employees in order to help alleviate the stress associated with not being able to pay utility bills during the partial government shutdown.
All year-round The Salvation Army is able to provide assistance to people in need of help paying utility bills through their Energy Share Program with Dominion Energy and Virginia Natural Gas.
In the case of the government shutdown, Virginia Natural Gas is waiving their usual shut-off notice requirement needed to apply for assistance, said Melissa Medel, The Salvation Army spokeswoman.
Dominion Energy is still providing assistance to anyone in need but are requiring a shut-off notice, said Bonita Harris, Dominion’s spokeswoman.
Harris said anyone who is experiencing financial issues with paying their utility bills should reach out to Dominion at 866-366-4357 to find out what kinds of assistance are available to them.
Dominion will be waiving late fees for government workers affected by the shutdown who need more time paying their bills, Harris said.
She said people who are struggling with paying their bills all year-round can reach out to the Virginia Department of Social Services by calling 211 to find more resources.
For affected federal workers who are in need of emergency assistance concerning their utility bills — those who live in Virginia Beach, Norfolk, Chesapeake or Portsmouth — can contact The Salvation Army for assistance.
To qualify for assistance, employees must provide a copy of their government ID, their furlough letter, their Dominion Energy and/or Virginia Natural Gas account number(s) and copies of their most recent bills for the respective accounts, Medel said.
This information can be emailed to: Mary.Mann@uss.salvationarmy.org or Seth.Atkinson@uss.salvationarmy.org.
Normally, The Salvation Army would require applicants to come in person to apply but they are waiving that requirement in favor of emailed applications, Medel said.
“We know that some people may have no gas money to get to us or that some may still be working while getting no pay, leaving little time to come in person to apply,” Medel said.
The program will be first come first serve, she said.
The food pantry
In addition to the financial assistance, The Salvation Army also has a food pantry available five days a week, Monday to Friday, from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. at 5525 Raby Road, Norfolk.
Affected federal employees can go there and pick up items such as groceries, baby diapers and formula.
The food pantry is also open to the public, Medel said.
If you are interested in donating to The Salvation Army, they are in need of the larger diaper sizes (sizes 4,5,6 and pull-ups), baby wipes, peanut butter and cereals, Medel said.
Community members wanting to help those in need during this time can do so by donating to their various assistance programs.
You can call 757-965-9007 to donate by phone, visit salvationarmyhrva.org to donate online or write a check to The Salvation Army Hampton Roads Area Command and mail it to 5525 Raby Road, Norfolk, VA 23502.
The Salvation Army is confident they can keep up with the food pantry and assistance because of the support they get from community members and partnerships, Medel said.
She said as the situation progresses with the government, The Salvation Army will have a better idea of what they will need and be able to do in the coming weeks.