6 Charitable Resources to Use When You Can’t Cover the Basics

 April 6, 2020
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When you’re struggling to pay your student loan bills and keep food in the fridge, simple advice about saving money by cutting out lattes or limiting shopping trips isn’t just unrealistic — it’s disheartening.

Student loan debt can be financially debilitating for graduates and students alike, making it difficult to afford living expenses like rent and groceries. Fortunately, however, there are organizations like Modest Needs, United Way and others that could be a big help to those in need.

Personal crisis is a common problem

If you struggle to afford basic needs such as housing and food, you’re far from alone. Nor does it matter how old you are — in fact, more young people are facing hunger and homelessness, prompting some universities to offer programs for students in need, as well as efforts to channel more federal aid to such students.

If you’re having trouble affording essentials or are going through a personal crisis, know that help is out there. Whether you need emergency housing, medical attention or clothes for work, these six resources listed below can get you back on your feet.

1. Catholic Charities and other faith-based organizations that can help
2. Modest Needs Grant
3. Free Charity Cars
4. Gradient Gives Back Community Outreach Program
5. NetWish
6. United Way 211
Why asking for help is worth it

1. Catholic Charities and other faith-based organizations that can help

With over 160 different agencies in the country, Catholic Charities USA (CCUSA) and its affiliates work to end poverty and help individuals, regardless of their religion.

CCUSA organizes community food banks and serves meals at soup kitchens. They also provide food for children who need meals after school hours, including on weekends or during the summer.

For families and individuals trying to manage a strict grocery budget, they offer cooking classes and educational programs to help you maximize every dollar.

Food insecurity in America is real, and it affects college students just like it affects families. According to the Urban Institute, over 30,000 students were food insecure during college and university.

Churches, mosques, temples and other places of worship across the U.S. often have ways to help those in need with food and shelter. If you are not part of a faith-based community, don’t worry, these programs are often open to all, despite your religion.

If you’re in danger of losing your home and becoming homeless, they even provide emergency housing assistance through one-time financial aid to pay your rent or mortgage. If that’s not an option in your situation, they can connect you to housing options in your area. To get assistance, visit the Catholic Charities website to find an agency near you.

2. Modest Needs Grant

Unlike many charities, Modest Needs tries to prevent financial disasters by helping families before they become homeless. They focus on those who are just one or two paychecks away from an emergency.

The organization provides short-term financial assistance to those in temporary crises, such as a sudden job loss or big medical bill. Many recipients are ineligible for aid from other organizations because they are technically above the poverty line but are still on the brink of losing everything.

Modest Needs offers self-sufficiency grants to help give you a hand. They give particular consideration to single persons, public school teachers and first responders struggling to make ends meet.

If you’re unable to pay rent this month because of an unexpected car repair, or you’re worried about paying for your utilities because you have a hospital bill, this grant may be able to help.

For more information or to apply, visit Modest Needs’ website.

3. Free Charity Cars

Transportation is a major issue for many people. Particularly, public transportation may not even be an option for those in suburban or rural areas. Not having access to a train or bus line can limit employment opportunities, thereby reducing earning potential.

Free Charity Cars strives to address this issue by providing free cars to people on the path to self-sufficiency. By getting a car free of charge, the hope is that individuals will be able to better access jobs and other resources.

Applications have currently been suspended, but they will be accepting new applicants shortly. To learn more about the organization, visit the Free Charity Cars website.

4. Gradient Gives Back Community Outreach Program

The Gradient Gives Back Community Outreach Program aims to help poor and distressed Americans at risk of losing their homes.

Whether you own your home or are renting, the organization provides mortgage payment or lease assistance by making payments for you. Although they are based in Minnesota, they assist families nationwide.

For more information or to apply, visit the Gradient Gives Back Foundation website.

5. NetWish

NetWish is a non-traditional nonprofit (none of the donations receive a tax benefit for donating) focused on paying it forward. Individuals provide help to others by granting small “wishes” or requests for help that cost $200 or less. The charity will send gift cards to recipients to help them pay for rent, utilities, medical bills or to buy clothes for a job interview.

While the amounts are relatively small, $200 can be enough to buy groceries for a month, keep the power on, buy school textbooks or put gas in your car. It can be an important safety net in an emergency.

To submit a request, visit NetWish and click on “Make a NetWish.”

6. United Way 211

The United Way 211 Information and Assistance Helpline is a free and confidential service available 24 hours a day, seven days a week. By calling, emailing or texting 2-1-1, you can get connected to local resources to help you through a crisis.

Whether you need emergency food stamps, housing, medical aid or are a victim of domestic abuse, 211 can help you find services in your area.

You can find out more information or get help at 211.org.

Asking for help is worth it

When you’re struggling to keep your head above water due to student loans debt, loss of a job or any of life’s hardships, asking for help can be scary. Remember you are not alone, and organizations like the ones mentioned above exist to give people like you a helping hand.

By reaching out for assistance, you can stabilize your situation and get back on the path to a more secure future.

Maya Dollarhide contributed to this report