Winter snuck up on us this year, bringing snow and school delays a whole week before Thanksgiving. We barely had time to change the tires on our vehicles and remember where we had stowed hats and gloves last spring before the cold white stuff was demanding our attention.
Still, if getting your car to the tire shop and finding your boots is the worst of your winter challenges, you can count yourself lucky. For some in the Upper Valley, winter brings hardships that far surpass minor annoyances. For those in need, winter can be a hard, long road.
So if you’ve got your winter gear in order, and you’re feeling generous during the next snow day, perhaps you’ll consider how you can help these social service organizations that assist your neighbors in the Upper Valley. They’ll take gifts of both money and time.
- Granite United Way is one of the largest and most diversified social service agencies in the Upper Valley. They coordinate with dozens of organizations throughout the region in both New Hampshire and Vermont to provide families and individuals with the educational opportunities, access to health care, and financial programs they need to become self-supporting members of the community.
- Baby, it’s cold out there! And even more so if you can’t afford the cost of heating fuel and a utility company is disconnecting your service due to late payments. If you want to help your neighbors who find themselves in this situation, consider lending a hand to LISTEN Community Services. Their Heating Helpers program provides an emergency delivery of heating fuel once every 12 months to applicants who meet predetermined requirements for services. That’s in addition to assistance with food, clothing, and housing.
- Eat or stay warm? Food scarcity is a year-long issue, but the increased cost of living during the winter months can exacerbate the problem. You can help by making regular donations to your nearest community food bank. You will find up-to-date lists of area food shelves on the website of The Valley News. You might also consider a donation to Willing Hands, a nonprofit organization that redistributes food collected from local restaurants and businesses—food that would otherwise have been thrown away.
- Have you ever tried to sustain a comfortable lifestyle in the Upper Valley without reliable transportation? It’s a serious challenge, especially in winter. For folks living from paycheck to paycheck, a disabled automobile—which they can’t afford to repair—can become the first domino to fall on their way to an increasingly desperate situation. That’s what makes Advance Transit such a lifesaver. The free bus service makes it possible for people to still get to work even if their car is parked in the yard waiting for repairs.
- Both New Hampshire and Vermont have housing regulations that make it difficult for landlords to evict tenants during the harshest months of year. Still, individuals and families do find themselves with no place to call home during the winter—when sleeping in your car or throwing up a tent alongside the river is not a viable option. Fortunately, they can turn to the Upper Valley Haven for help. Located in Hartford, Vermont, the Haven provides a full range of services to families and individuals in need not only of housing, but a sense of hope.