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Assistance programs Southern Illinois area.

Southern Illinois includes many counties, but financial help is available. Below are some churches, charities and non-profits to apply at. Everything from housing grants (for rent, mortgages, or security deposits) to free food, heating or utility bill help, loans, and other financial assistance is offered. Whether low income and living in Pulaski or Union county, or a nearby region, or someone who needs free medical care or transportation, assistance is offered.

Emergency financial resources

Residents of the southern part of Illinois have several different agencies that they can contact for help. The Shawnee Development Council, Inc. supports all the counties. They are the community action agency for the region. Resources administered include the following.

Several small dollar scholarships may be offered. These will be for CSBG eligible persons seeking a college degree. The application process starts in the spring months.

Food pantries and soup kitchens are scattered in the region, including the counties of Pulaski, Hardin, Pope, and Union. Non-profit partners include churches and other local Illinois charities. The non-profit is committed to feeding the hungry. Some hot meals may be offered at a limited number of locations.

Emergency financial assistance may be paid out from CSBG grants. Qualified low income and working poor may receive rent help, shelter, food, medical, clothing, and fuel during the winter months. The one time payment will be made to your vendor or landlord.

Holiday assistance, including Project Share, includes free Thanksgiving and Christmas food baskets. Staff from Development Council, Inc. and other nearby non-profits contribute goods, gifts, and money to the program.

Prescription assistance may be offered for those with no other options and/or a life threatening condition. Vouchers or referrals to pharmaceutical companies can be provided. Read more on assistance for prescriptions.




Housing programs are run, often in partnership with the Illinois Department of Human Services and United Way. Rent and homeless prevention is made available to eligible individuals and families who are homeless and experiencing a need for food, shelter, and other supportive services. Direct financial assistance may be paid out to people facing eviction and homelessness due to past due rent payment due or utility disconnect notice.

The Family and Community Development Program will help people in southern Illinois and regions including Pulaski and Union obtain self-improvement and family stability.

The federal government Emergency Food and Shelter Program is another option for housing. It can provide grants and assistance to people in a crisis and who need rent assistance, money for utilities or people facing an eviction.

Save money from Individual Development Accounts. This is a community action agency facilitated matched savings program to help eligible low-income individuals save funds to start a small business, pay for post-secondary or vocational education, or funds to buy a home. Credit counseling is mandatory too.

The Shawnee Development Council, Inc. administers the Workforce Investment Act. This can help residents obtain employment, sign up for job training, literacy, and provides vocational rehabilitation programs. It can help the unemployed, youth, and even senior citizens. Funds may also pay for uniforms and tools, child care, and travel reimbursement.

The Shawnee council is located at 550 West Washington, Karnak, Illinois 62956-0298. However there are offices around the region. Dial (618) 634-2201.

Daystar Community Program has limited funding to pay for prescription medicines, utilities, rent, security deposits and shelter expenses. They also run a Food Pantry/USDA Commodities. This may have canned food, frozen sandwiches and groceries. Another service, the Madeline's Mart thrift store, can provide winter clothing, school supplies, and household goods. 909 Washington Avenue, Cairo, IL, 62914. Phone - 618.734.0178, or more information on services from DayStar Community Program.





Child Care Resource and Referral runs the Illinois Child Care Assistance Program. This can provide financial assistance to working families to help them pay for day or child care while they are working or in school. 800.548.5563

Southern Seven Health Department is based in Johnson County but serves the region. Aid is for parents who are 19 years or younger and need to get their GED. Programs can provide Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), KidCare, and more. The agency may also pay for school supplies and transportation. Address is 515 1/2 East Vine, Vienna, Illinois, 62955, call 618.658.5011.

First Baptist Church of Anna and Union County may help pay for food, heating bills, rent, and other basic needs from the Benevolence Fund. They also partner with the non-profit Haven House to coordinate resources. 618.833.5416.

Housing Authority of Union County has low income housing for families, seniors and disabled persons. Or apply for the section 8 rental assistance / voucher program. 618.833.5129, or read Illinois section 8.

Cario Salvation Army Service Extension Unit, phone 618.734.2665, offers many social services. Among them include utility bill help. Free Christmas assistance is available from the Angel Tree and meals. Other services include clothing, thrift stores, housing/rent help, and free food.

Land of Lincoln Legal Assistance offers help for civil matters such as Social Security Disability (SSD), for TANF, food stamps and Medicaid, and advice on eviction, foreclosure, utility shut-offs. 800.642.5335.

Shawnee Alliance for Seniors offers an assessment of needs. Then get help in developing a plan, finding housing, adult day care, and more. Programs can also help with rent deposits and utility costs. Main number is 618.985.8322.

Free clinics in Southern Illinois

Community Health & Emergency Services, Inc. (CHESI) offers assistance to low income people all ages including illness diagnosis, annual physical exams, screenings, treatment, follow-up care, and laboratory work. There are several clinics in the southern Illinois region.

  • 13245 Kessler Road, Cairo, Illinois, 62914. Call 618.734.4400.
  • 100 Market Street, Golconda, IL, 62938, phone 618.683.3781
  • Address is 1250 Cedar Court, Carbondale, 618.457.7821. It serves Jackson County.
  • Or click more medical bill programs.

Community Health & Emergency Services, Inc. - Hardin County Dental Clinic offers free or low cost general and preventive dentistry care. Call 618.285.3930 for intake.

Rural Health, Inc. provides the low income and uninsured with access to a full array of primary care services. This includes immunizations; family planning; health maintenance; inpatient care; chronic disease management; mental health services; infant/child development screening; school and sports physicals; smoking cessation classes; pregnancy testing; childbirth preparation classes; health education; and even weight management and counseling. 515 N. Main Street, Anna, phone 618.833.4471.

Free groceries and food pantries

The Happy Helpers Pantry, Inc. provides free food to those in need. 420 State Hwy 127, Tamms, IL, 62988. Main number is 618.747.9253.

Harvest Deliverance Center has free clothing available to anyone. The non-profit center is also a distribution site for USDA commodities. 618.252.0009.

Least of the Brethren of Pinckneyville Illinois has USDA Commodities and operates a food pantry. Call 618.357.9530





Anna Bixby Women's Center offers food, groceries, and meals to the needy who walk in for help. 304 E. Robinson Street, Carmi in White County. Dial 618.384.2003 for hours.

First Baptist Church of Vienna may have USDA Commodities and emergency bags of food available to those who meet income guidelines once per month. Serves Hardin, Johnson and nearby counties. 618.658.3741.

Goreville Ministerial Alliance provides free holiday food baskets, gifts and toys for children. Other food items are offered too. Donate if you can. Call 618.995.9360 for more details.

The Salvation Army Southern Illinois offers food boxes and canned goods, holiday meals, thrift store, and more. Other resources such as shelter, transitional housing, and vouchers for clothing may be offered. Also get help in applying for government aid such as food stamps. 618.993.5854.

Christian Outreach Program Emergency (C.O.P.E.) may support hose who meet of Department of Human Services guidelines. The center is in Massac but covers the region. Dial 618.524.3635.

First Baptist Church of Dongola allows people to “shop” for the food they need. This helps reduce waste. The center is at 203 E. Cross St.. Call 618.827.4391.


By Jon McNamara

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