I often write about human service programs, poverty, and related topics so people find their way to my site looking for information on programs to help their families and households, especially during the cold winter months. I see that happening already this year so I’m going to go ahead and share the information I can access, writing updates as necessary.
LIHEAP – a federally funded home heating assistance program administered through the PA Department of Human Services (formerly Department of Welfare). Applications will be accepted starting on November 3, 2014. More information will be available at this website soon, including links to application. The income guidelines for 2014-2015 are available here. I’m sorry that the state posted the timeframe without updating the application page, but I’ll keep an eye on it and make the update when it goes live. UPDATE – apply online through the COMPASS website
Food Assistance – SNAP which you may know as food stamps can be applied for also through COMPASS or by contacting Just Harvest which also helps with TANF applications and other programs. I highly recommend working with Just Harvest as they are dedicated to your dignity. You can also find a food pantry near you via the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank website.
Toys for Tots – the program information hasn’t been updated yet. I’ll post the links for the surrounding counties.
- UPDATED Allegheny County – usually distributes via Open House. Registration requirements are listed now, Dates: Dec 12 9AM-2PM and on Dec 13 9AM-2PM.
- Beaver County – now accepting registration. Dates, times, and paperwork are listed here.
- Butler County – registration will be run November 1-30, 2014. Paperwork requirements are listed here.
- Washington – November 1st, 8th, 15th, 22nd, 29th,of 2014 from 10:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.
- Greene Counties – call Buzz Wathers 724-499-5332
- UPDATE Westmoreland County – registration information not yet available, but the site is here Click here for the dates!
- UPDATE Fayette County – registration information not yet available, but the site is here Nov 12, 13 and 14
- Armstrong County – registration is open November 1-30, 2014. Paperwork requirements are listed here.
- UPDATED Indiana County – registration information not yet available, but the site is here. DATES 11/14-11/15, 11/21-11/22
- Bedford and Somerset County – signup is during October on limited dates. Click here for more information.
- Other PA Counties – click here for a drop down menu
Play It Forward is another resource for gently used toys and books for children up to age 16. They just posted for the first time this season, promising to list distribution information soon. This program has few requirements, but does do a mass distribution, traditionally in the Braddock area. I’ve heard lovely, lovely things about the organizers. DISTRIBUTION DATE Saturday December 13 at Century III Mall
Braddock Free Store – redistributes excess merchandise to Allegheny County residents. Red Lantern Bikes refurbishes bikes and distributes through the store.
Goodwill Stores – Goodwill is a strong ally to the LGBTQ community. They have stores – including an awesome Outlet Store – all over the region. If you have internet access, check out the Retail Store calendar which lists their sales and specials to save even more.
GLCC Winter Gear – Pittsburgh’s LGBTQ Community Center collects winter gear for distribution to the community from October to March every year.
The Salvation Army has programs to help people access free winter clothing, holiday support, food and heating assistance.
You can also contact 211 using your phone or online for general referrals and information.