Where to start

People who have never needed to apply for assistance from the government or nonprofit agencies often don't know where to start, experts said. So, local leaders suggest people first call the United Way's helpline at 738-4636, which is available between 9 a.m. and 4:30 p.m. weekdays. When people call, a representative will ask them about their needs and help them find different agencies that will help them. Some of the services the helpline will direct people to include:

Township trustees have specific poor relief funds to help people who are struggling. Often that money can be used to pay utility bills, rent or for other expenses.

The trustee will require certain documentation, including copies of birth certificates and Social Security cards for everyone in the home, activity on all bank accounts in the past 30 days, vehicle registrations, income and employment history and insurance statements.

Here's a listing of the township trustees:

Blue River Township, (812) 526-5113, 116 S. Holland St., Edinburgh

Clark Township, call 862-2883 for assistance.

Franklin Township, 736-7511, 150 W. Jefferson St., Suite A, Franklin. Hours: 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Monday and Wednesday and noon to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday

Hensley Township, call (812) 597-4568 for assistance.

Needham Township, 738-3778, 58 W. Jefferson St., Franklin. Hours: 9:30 to 11:30 a.m. Tuesday through Thursday

Nineveh Township, call 933-2097 for assistance. Office hours: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Tuesday and Thursday

Pleasant Township, 535-7571, 60 N. Railroad St., Whiteland. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Union Township, call 422-9444 for assistance.

White River, 422-1143, 2929 S. Morgantown Road, Greenwood. Hours: 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Thursday

Some churches will offer financial assistance to needy families, even if they are not members. The helpline can direct you to churches that offer assistance, and people also should contact their own church.

The state also offers additional assistance to low-income families, such as food stamps and temporary financial assistance.

To get an idea if you could qualify, visit http://www.in.gov/fssa/2954.htm, click on the county you live in and then enter the information requested, including family size, insurance coverage and income. You can also call the Indiana Family and Social Services Administration at (877) 438-4479.

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