Eblen Charities financial aid programs.

Partnering with non-profits and churches, the Eblen Charities provides a number of programs to low income and working poor families in Buncombe County. The organization will try to address basic needs of clothing, housing, food, and utilities. So financial support may be offered for these needs in a crisis, and can range from emergency rent to utility bill assistance and food.

Food programs from Eblen Charities

As part of Eblen Charities mission, they work to assist struggling adults, children and families with accessing comprehensive nutrition services. The staff from Eblen strive to help the less fortunate and provide them free food. The focus is on those from the Buncombe community who are hungry, elderly, ill, and/or and disabled. Through valued partnerships with local churches, Ingles Markets, area credit and schools, Hearts with Hands and Meals on Wheels, Eblen Nutrition's school snack, grocery, student backpack, and lunch programs supply free groceries, food and more to those in need each year. The non-profit's various food programs are described in more detail below:

The Buncombe County and Asheville City School System partner with the charity on the Food for Thought School Breakfast and Lunch. This can offer assistance to all children who cannot afford breakfast and/or lunch during the school day, but and are still not eligible for the federal government free or low-price lunch program. All children from low income families are eligible for the program, with referrals made to Eblen Charities by area schools. Each child enrolled receives help. This can include a prepaid lunch card or snack.

A good number of families from the area are financially unable to provide snacks for their children to bring to school. The Food for Thought Snack Program provides tens of thousands of snacks to local children at no cost. This is done with partners such as Hearts with Hands, Sunrise Kiwanis Club, North Buncombe Kiwanis Club, Credit Unions of Western North Carolina, Carolinas Credit Union Foundation, Ingles Markets Biltmore Farms, and Manna Food Bank.

The Hearts with Hands/Eblen Back-Pack Bunch Program is a multiple-county- service that provides another source of free food for students to take home on weekends and during school vacations. Each participating child or teenager is given a backpack filled with a supply of ready-to-eat or easy-to-prepare meals as a supplement for times when school-provided meals are not available.




Western North Carolina's premier grocery market chain and hunger assistance organization have joined together to form the innovative Hearts with Hands/Eblen Grocery Partnership. This is another nutritional assistance program. It has distributed tons of food, perishable items, groceries and more in providing vital relief to families struggling with hunger and health issues.

Created in partnership with the Director of the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, the Food Stamp Intervention Program assists participants and those that have recently applied. It will help them during times when they are waiting for their SNAP food stamps cards to arrive. The main concern is for families who may be going hungry at such times. DSS joined Eblen Charities, Hearts with Hands, Ingles Markets, and others in providing assistance with bridging the gap between hunger and help in western North Carolina.

Gas prices continue to increase. With that major challenge in mind, both Meals on Wheels and Eblen Charities have joined forces to create Meals in Motion, a free gas-voucher program designed to help meal-delivery volunteers with the cost of fueling their vehicles. The goal is to ensure that the continuation of the meal delivery to homebound seniors or disabled who depend on the program is accomplished without interruption.

Rent, medical care, and other financial assistance

As health care bills continue to soar, Eblen Medical is here to help. The organization will provide assistance with paying for needed medical supplies, prescription medications, physician visits, and eye glasses for children, adults, and families living in the greater Buncombe County.

Emergency rental and housing assistance is part of the Homeless Prevention and Rapid Rehousing resources. This is a federal-funded program providing short and mid-term assistance with housing and financial issues. Not only is rent help offered, but there may also be funds to pay a security deposit and more. It is for individuals who are homeless or at risk of being homeless.

The TBRA Tenant-Based Rental Assistance Program provides another form of financial help with security deposits or rent. It is for those who are homeless or at risk of being homeless. In some cases a loan will be issued for these housing costs.

The Asheville City School System is utilizing a Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) to assist families with children who are homeless or at risk with securing appropriate housing and then keeping it. The regional program supplies anywhere up to three months of support with housing services. This may be financial aid, landlord mediation and budgeting, and help on locating a low income apartment in Asheville.





Lower income families who need assistance with paying for utility bills, food, rent or mortgage payments can turn to the Emergency Food and Shelter Program. Another option is the Buncombe County Department of Social Services. The two government affiliated agencies have partnered to supply federal funds and grants to assist families by paying for one month's rent or energy bills, depending on the availability of funding. EFS is available to Buncombe County residents in need of assistance with rent, mortgage payments, or bills for lighting or gas.

In conjunction with the Work First Program, a new incarnation of the Emergency Assistance Program provides assistance to families experiencing short-term financial crisis as a result of unusual circumstances. The Buncombe County/Eblen Charities Emergency Assistance Partnership is available to help families with children and at least one employed parent. There may be financial aid for paying for utility deposits, rent, water bills, electricity, and/or gas.

The Eblen Energy Project provides much needed assistance to needy families who have disability, health issues and/or that are sick. It works by delivering hundreds of thousands of gallons of free heating oil and natural gas to the community. It can also assist with electric and gas bills.

Additionally, the utility bill assistance program purchases new space heaters, fans, and window air conditioners so that fellow community members do not suffer during the frigid winter or the hot summer. The Energy Project's community partners include the Buncombe County Department of Social Services, Biltmore Oil Company, Haywood Electric Membership Corporation and companies such as Progress Energy and Public Service Gas Companies.

For electric and gas customers who are within five days of being disconnected, CIP provides help. Based on income eligibility, program funds can be used for paying electricity, natural gas, oil, wood, or propane; deposits; as well as old light or gas bill that are under one year or less late.

In order to get assistance with heating oil, the client must be within six inches, or 30 gallons, of having an empty tank. In order to apply for help from the charity, please bring the disconnect bill, social security cards for everyone in the household, photo identification, and proof of income at the time of application.

The Helping Each Member Cope Program, which is administered by Eblen Charities, helps Haywood Electric Membership Corporation customers with the cost of lights and/or oil. So there are other options for Buncombe County North Carolina families.

As part of the Eblen Charities Medical Division, Eblen Dental performs outreach services for children and low income or uninsured adults who need dental care. Partnering with the Mission Hospital System, Buncombe County Dental Society, the Buncombe County Health Department, Asheville-Buncombe Technical Community College, and local Dental Assistants and Hygienists, the Eblen Dental program has served thousands of western North Carolina children and adults.

Another services is the Children's Dental Assistance Program. This focuses on the needs of the youth from low income families. The Children's Dental Sealant Program provides sealants at no charge. The Children's Outreach Program works with Mission Hospital's operatories and Asheville Anesthesia to assist local children with oral surgery and any other extensive dental care needs.




Clothing and basic needs are offered by Eblen Charities. A program known as If the Shoe Fits concentrates on one area of need. This is helping low-income families purchase shoes for their children to wear to school. The single focus of the program has ensured its success in helping hundreds of local students in Asheville and other towns each year.

In an effort to help all low-income Buncombe County and Asheville City students maintain the same level of dignity and choice enjoyed by their classmates, the Student Clothing Project provides needed clothing to them. This is done without resorting to wearing hand-me-downs or other second-hand clothing to school.

The Regent Park Early Childhood Development Center and Eblen Charities work together to provide opportunities for young children that are disabled or that have special needs. It can offer them education and developmental services needed to prepare them to enter school.

For more information, or referrals to other agencies or churches, Eblen Charities is located at 50 Westgate Parkway, Asheville, NC 28806. Call (828) 255-3066.


By Jon McNamara

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