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      More mid-Missourians in need of heating assistance

      The Central Missouri Community Action agency reports the number of people applying for heating assistance is up by 17% compared to this time last year, placing a severe strain on their financial resources.

      There are only a handful of places where needy mid-Missourians can apply for heating bill assistance including United Way, and the Central Missouri Community Action agency. Salvation Army used to offer heating bill assistance, but stopped offering that service several years ago.

      Ameren offers a service to its customers where they can look up by zip code what local organizations offer heating assistance.

      Colita Harvey, a Referral Specialist at CMAA, said they've received 5,535 applications for heating bill assistance for this winter season, up nearly a fifth since this time last year. The agency can provide families who qualify with up to $800 in heating bill assistance, provided that many of their other bills are paid and other conditions are met.

      Harvey said her agency faces a substantial backlog, and that they have already run out of money once this year. "Right now, this agency is 95 percent spent of our money," Harvey said. "Once we run out, me may all of a sudden get a new allocation. However, that isn't always a promise."

      If CMAA runs out of heating bill assistance money, Harvey said she may have to refer new clients to other agencies, such as churches or the United Way in order to receive heating bill assistance.

      Harvey said her agency is in need of donations and volunteers. To learn more, visit their website.