While this time of year is one that many look forward to, it is important to remember that for some people, the holiday season can be one of the most difficult times of the year.

If you know of someone who may be feeling a little stretched thin this winter, or if you yourself are feeling that way, consider some of the programs Waldo Community Action Partners (WCAP) has to offer:

The Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) helps qualified homeowners and renters pay for heating costs. Benefits include help paying for fuel and emergency fuel delivery. You can also qualify for energy-related repairs if you are eligible for HEAP. This year, Maine State Housing Authority, who oversees Home Energy Assistance Program (HEAP) funds in Maine, raised the program’s income guidelines, making it possible for more families to qualify for home heating assistance. The new income guidelines can be found by clicking here. Eligibility is based on 3 or 12 month (whichever you choose) gross income history from all sources in the household. Keep in mind that there are many factors that go in to finding out if you are eligible, including adjustments to your income that are made during the application process. So, apply even if you are over income the limits, as you may find during the application process that you still qualify. Waldo County residents can apply through Waldo Community Action Partners by scheduling an appointment. You can also apply over the phone. Appointments can be made by calling (207) 338-3025.

WCAP Heroes 4 Hunger works in partnership with hundreds of volunteers, civic groups, town officials, and firemen to distribute 2,000 boxes (36 tons) of food containing meat, fruit, vegetables, grain, and dairy to Waldo County families in need during the holiday season as part of their Holiday Food Box Project.

WCAP facilitates the Neighbor for Neighbor Coalition, which is a group of area agencies and organizations who act as a clearinghouse for holiday projects throughout Waldo County. This program ensures that resources are shared and unduplicated so that the maximum number of families possible are helped during the holiday season. Families can apply for assistance with gifts for their children during the holiday season through WCAP and the Neighbor for Neighbor Coalition, starting in mid-September and ending early November each year, with gifts made available mid-December.

Winter weather can cause a lot of stress, especially for those who may not have very reliable vehicles, vehicles that perform poorly in the snow, and/or jobs that don’t afford them sick time or the flexibility to call out. While WCAP’s public transportation program isn’t accessible in very bad weather, it can be of value to families who find their old vehicle doesn’t want to start anymore in the cold weather, gas and repair costs are piling up, or holiday traffic is creating more stress than they need. WCAP’s general public transportation program is for everyone. You don’t need to meet any qualifications or requirements to use it. There are different public transportation options depending on where you live. Fares range from $1.50 to $8.00 each way. Additionally, WCAP runs the Downtown Area Shuttle (DASH), which is a shuttle-style bus service available in both Belfast and Rockland that anyone can use. The buses make a continuous loop and bus stops are marked with blue and yellow signs. Passengers may be dropped off and picked up anywhere along the route. Passengers pay a $2.00 one-way fare when boarding the bus. $5.00 day passes are also available, as well as 12-punch cards for $20.00 and monthly passes for $50.00. Reduced fares are available. For more information, call WCAP’s Mid-Coast Public Transportation Program at (207) 338-4769.

Doing something to help someone else can be a great way to lift one’s spirits during the winter months and the holiday season. WCAP offers a few different volunteer opportunities during the holiday season, including volunteering as a driver for the transportation program (year round and not just during the holidays) or volunteering to help pack some of the food boxes that are distributed in November and December. If you or someone you know is interested in becoming a volunteer driver for WCAP’s Mid-Coast Public Transportation Program, call (207) 338-4769. There are a lot of people in the community looking for help getting to and from their doctor’s appointments or even just getting to the grocery store. If you or someone you know is interested in helping to pack this year’s December round of holiday food boxes, all you need to do is show up at Troy Howard Middle School on Saturday, December 21 at 6am. This is a fun holiday tradition for many and don’t worry about the early start time; warm coffee and hot chocolate is provided!