A Collin County agency that provides emergency assistance is struggling to survive because of a lack of donations and an abrupt administrative change.
The Community Lifeline Center assists northern Collin County residents who suddenly can't pay their rent or utility bills or buy medical supplies. It has helped more than 300 families this year.
But agency has also found itself in need. The executive director left last year, and Community Lifeline had no money when the new executive director came on board.
"When I walked in, there was nothing," said Christine Hockin-Boyd, executive director.
"The only donations that were left were a handful of churches that were still supporting plus FEMA funds; they were using that to serve clients," Hockin-Boyd said.
At the same time, more people in Collin County were in need.
"We tend to cater to more the low-income families, but this year, we saw a definite increase in middle-class people coming in and asking for help," volunteer Katie Tilley said.
The number of people in Collin County who receive supplemental nutrition assistance, or food stamps, increased by 8 percent this year.
The county has been hit hard by the economic downturn, losing more than 9,000 jobs in the last year. Collin County's unemployment rate is at 7.7 percent, an increase of nearly 3 percent from last year.
More than 8,000 homes in the county have been posted for foreclosure this year, an increase of 32 percent from 2008, according to the Foreclosure Listing Service.
"Obviously, with us struggling, trying to get back on our own feet again, we couldn't provide full assistance, so we were doing partial and even at that, that was a challenge in order to let the funds that we had to stretch out until Dec. 31," Hockin-Boyd said.
Grants have helped Community Lifeline distribute box fans and light bulbs. And the agency is working to distribute food and gifts to families for the holidays.
Community Lifeline is also hoping for support from the community.
"You yourself could be across my desk one day, needing help," Hockin-Boyd said. "None of us are immune to what's taking place in our world."
For more information on Community Lifeline and to donate to the agency, call 972.542.0020 or visit communitylifelinecenter.wordpress.com.
Kristi Nelson contributed to this report.