The Blue Grass Community Foundation is launching an emergency fund to assist Central Kentucky and Eastern Kentucky residents with food, shelter and other forms of relief during the economic downtown.
The new CARE Fund (Collaborative Assistant Relief Effort) is starting with $63,000 in pledges from several organizations.
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Officials who announced the effort during a press conference Monday morning in Lexington said they will seek additional commitments from organizations, charities and individual donors.
Money donated to the CARE Fund will be funneled through area non-profit agencies that provide help to people who need food, shelter and other assistance, said Ann Nash, president and chief executive of the Blue Grass Community Foundation, which will manage the fund.
The need across the region is unprecedented, officials said.
Lexington Mayor Jim Newberry, who attended the announcement, said assistance from the private sector is crucial because government revenues are "very sluggish" as a result of the economic downtown, and many agencies are swamped with calls for help.
Newberry noted that God's Pantry Food Bank has received calls for emergency food assistance from more than 1,900 households recently, more than double the usual rate at this time of year.
Representatives of several relief agencies painted similar pictures, saying they routinely receive pleas from people who had never asked for help before but are desperate because they've lost their jobs, their homes or both.
Nash said 100 percent of the donations to the CARE Fund will go to people who need help. The intent is to get assistance to those in need as quickly as possible, she said.
Anyone can make donations to the CARE Fund and, if they wish, they can specify that their money be spent in their own communities.