For the past 29 years, Operation Help, established by the Ministerial Alliance, has offered financial assistance to Livingston County residents in need — such as a light bills, heating bills, rent, gas for transportation to doctor appointments, and other miscellaneous items.

All the money received is donated by individuals, groups, foundations, businesses, churches, etc. None comes from state or federal money. It is staffed entirely by volunteers, and has a board of three ministers and three lay people. Screeners are volunteers from various churches, along with interested citizens. First Christian Church provides office space for the interviews and the church secretary sets up the appointments and keeps updated records of people who receive assistance. Individuals are allowed assistance once during a 12-month period. Operation Help works closely with the Salvation Army and Green Hills Community Action Agency to be able to meet the person's need.

However, due to reduction of federal funds, these agencies have less money, according to John Cook, treasurer of Operation Help.

"This puts a greater burden on Operation Help for the rest of the year," he said. "Our fund is desperately low this year due to economic conditions."

So far this year, Operation Help has received 416 calls for assistance, and has issued checks for a total of $81,752.85. That is $11,183.54 more than last year at this time.

Also, through the Life Center Food Pantry, Operation Help has assisted 3,769 families, which represents 10,577 individuals.

First Christian Church is hosting a spaghetti supper from 4 until 7 p.m. this Friday, to raise funds for Operation Help. The church will also have a chili and soup supper in January to benefit Operation Help.