Restoring water successful, but still needs support - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Restoring water successful, but still needs support

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NEW HANOVER COUNTY, NC (WECT) – Generous donations and money from local governments provided a surge of support to the CFPUA Assist program, but now the money needed to restore running water to homes in New Hanover County has slowed to a trickle.

It's been almost a year since Betty Palmer gave $10,000 to the United Way of the Cape Fear Area for families without access to water. Her action inspired more to give, and now the United Way reports that more than $36,000 has helped more than 130 families.

"It's a tremendous success," said Tommy Taylor with the United Way.

Major Richard Watts with the Salvation Army agreed that the program has had a positive impact on the community, but 28 families are on a waiting list for assistance. The current balance for the program is less than 50 cents.

"As soon as we get resources, we go ahead and expend them to make sure people are helped," said Watts.

That balance can expect a boost, thanks to employees with the Cape Fear Public Utility Authority. Spokesperson Mike McGill said Wednesday that the authority provided a check for $3,500 to the United Way.

The United Way campaigns for funding, then passes it along to the Salvation Army to determine who needs it most. Taylor said CFPUA Assist is included in the current campaign effort but it is not promoted over any of the United Way's 29 other programs.  He added that the program takes zero money from donations to cover administration costs.

The program returns running water to families who lost it from months of unpaid bills, but it's not a handout, according to Watts. He said families who are screened as needing the help have to complete courses that teach them how to budget and manage money.

"We work very hard to make sure that the people being served are people who are deserving," he said.

There is also an increased need from the Salvation Army this holiday season. Watts said the non-profit helped more than 17,000 people through the holidays in 2011, and he predicts the numbers this year to exceed 20,000.

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