It's only May, but East Texas temperatures are already climbing into the high 80s and low 90s. The hotter it gets outside, the more people are trying to cool themselves off inside. The result is high electric bills that sometimes force those living paycheck to paycheck to make tough decisions.
Salvation Army Captain Hank Harwell said, "We see a lot of situations where people are choosing between paying their utility bills or paying their rent or some other expenses they might have. We try to help mitigate some of that by assisting with either utility or rent or other needs so that they can afford to pay some of the other bills they might have."
A copy of your electric bill and proof of income is all the Salvation Army needs before they can provide financial assistance. If they can't help you catch up on your electric bill, they will refer you to another agency that can.
Mary Fougeron's last electric bill was almost $1,000. It's normally around $300. Fougeron got help paying the big bill from the Salvation Army, but she doesn't want to make asking for help a habit.
"We just do the best we can," said Fougeron. "You have to let some things go that you want to get done - repairs on the house, gas you put in your car [and] the upkeep on the cars. We have to take from somewhere; we have to cut back on everything else to pay the electric bill and that's not fair."