(Source: United Way of Lancaster County)
(Source: United Way of Lancaster County)

Josephine Martin says she felt "delighted" and "blessed" when her Project SOS check arrived from the United Way of Lancaster County.

"I got to pay a lot of medical bills off," she said.

Martin is one of the many people helped so far with grants of up to $500 provided through the local United Way's Project SOS. Launched in January as "Share Our Stimulus," it encourages people with the means to do so to help individuals in need in Lancaster County during the coronavirus pandemic, whether by donating all or part of their stimulus, or through other resources.

As of mid-March, the United Way has distributed more than $73,000 to 163 applicants — 143 families and 20 individuals — through the initiative.

However, 187 more applicants who have been approved are still awaiting checks. To help them, Project SOS needs $85,750 in donations. So, with the third round of Covid-19 stimulus checks arriving in Americans' bank accounts, the county United Way is asking the community to help out.

Donations of all amounts, small or large, are welcomed and encouraged, said Madeline Seiler, United Way’s director of marketing and communications. For more information or to make a donation, click here.

Martin, 70, is an organ player and former music teacher. Since her retirement, she's been playing paid gigs at nursing homes and events to make ends meet. But that all stopped last March when the coronavirus arrived, and her income has dropped.

Meanwhile, she received a cancer diagnosis. She is responding to treatment, she said, and she has good insurance, but she's still being hit with numerous copays and other charges "that were not within my budget."

Project SOS "is a wonderful program," she said.

Project SOS received 423 applications in all and has distributed four rounds of checks. There have been 71 applications deemed ineligible because applicants did not live in Lancaster County, had already applied or had not suffered income loss. Applications are currently on hold until additional funds can be raised.

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