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Fort Smith/Fayetteville News | 5newsonline KFSM 5NEWS | Get the local news and weather where you live from 5NEWS. Covering Fort Smith, Fayetteville, Bentonville, and all of Northwest Arkansas and the River Valley.

United Way starts COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund

The fund provides aid in bills, rent, and food to those facing financial hardship due to the COVID-19 crisis.

ARKANSAS, USA — United Way Worldwide has created the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund to assist those facing financial hardship as a result of the coronavirus emergency.

During this time of social distancing and self-quarantining, new economic challenges are being felt across the country. 

Industries are experiencing massive sales decline, and employees are losing tips, wages, and jobs due to closings and cancellations.

Children from low-income families may not be getting breakfast or lunch while schools are closed. 

The COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund supports communities struggling in the wake of the coronavirus crisis by supporting local United Ways and 2-1-1.  

"911 they always say call if you have an emergency, I would say every other call you can call 2-1-1,” said Jackson Braswell, Communications Manager for United Way.

2-1-1 is a free telephone service that provides a direct link between people who need help and people who can give help.

“We’re very fortunate that the United Way of Northwest Arkansas has had their counties covered and now we're able to bring it to our counties which are Sebastian Crawford Franklin Logan and Scott,” said Eddie Lee Herndon, President of United Way of Fort Smith Area.

United Way 2-1-1 specialists connect people with disaster, food, housing, utility, health care resources, and more.  

“Our Boys and Girls Clubs are stepping up, our senior centers are working every day with grab and go lunches, Meals on Wheels is continuing to move forward our healthcare organizations in our EMS and our law-enforcement everybody’s working to put the plans in place,” Herndon said.

RELATED: COVID-19 FAMILY RELIEF FUND for Fayetteville Students

RELATED: Coronavirus in Arkansas: What you need to know

To contact a 2-1-1 specialist for assistance call 211 or (866) 489-6983.

For more information about 2-1-1- visit arkansas211.org.

To donate to the COVID-19 Community Response and Recovery Fund visit Unitedway.org. Those donations will go to United Way of America or Worldwide for them to distribute. 

The service will not end once COVID-19 is gone. Herndon says this is something that will help people for any nonemergency need for years to come.