FITCHBURG, MA: March 2, 2021 — United Way of North Central Massachusetts (UWNCM) has distributed $81,000 in grants to 11 local agencies from its Stand United COVID-19 Response Fund, bringing the fund’s total distributions to nearly $350,000 since it was launched last March. The fund provides for basic and on-going needs of community members affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The latest round of grants includes a $40,000 grant to Athol Area YMCA to help families and individuals maintain their housing and employment after facing long-term challenges from the pandemic. Households can apply for up to $1,000 each to cover a wide range of expenses including rent and utilities, car payments, medication and other essentials.

Additional grants were given to ten area food pantries to help address rising food insecurity in the region. Many food pantries have been busier than ever serving increasing numbers of clients while also adapting to new safety protocols due to COVID-19. The grants will enable pantries to continue operations while providing clients with food and crucial products such as cleaning supplies and diapers.

While distributing the grants, UWNCM sought to support pantries serving a variety of populations throughout North Central Massachusetts, including multiple pantries that they had not previously funded. These include Montachusett Veterans Outreach Center in Gardner, Northstar Family Services, Inc., in Leominster and HEAL Winchendon in Winchendon.

 “As local residents continue to struggle due to this unprecedented public health crisis and its lingering economic impact, UWNCM remains committed to partnering with these and other critical organizations to support those in need,” says UWNCM President Kory Eng.

UWNCM launched the Stand United COVID-19 Response Fund in March 2020. So far, the fund has raised more than $400,000 and distributed nearly $350,000. The fund will continue to make grants to local agencies utilizing a targeted approach and invited-application process.

The United Way of North Central Massachusetts serves the communities of Ashburnham, Ashby, Athol, Ayer, Devens, Fitchburg, Gardner, Groton, Harvard, Hubbardston, Leominster, Littleton, Pepperell, Lunenburg, Petersham, Phillipston, Royalston, Shirley, Templeton, Townsend, Westminster and Winchendon.