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PA 211 offers free resources and help during pandemic

Whether it's finding food for your family during the pandemic or tips to help pay your bills, PA 211 Northeast is a free, confidential service available 24/7, 365.

If you have a lot of unanswered questions, or if you are looking for help during this pandemic, there is a place where you can turn.

Newswatch 16's Ryan Leckey spotlighted this free resource on Thursday that's just a phone call or text away. 

It's called "PA 211 Northeast."

2-1-1 is a number you can dial that offers help with all sorts of questions. Consider it the Swiss Army knife of helplines. 

The free, confidential service is available 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year round.

PA 211 falls under the umbrella of the Family Service Association of NEPA based in Luzerne County. It's a not-for-profit organization that serves 17 counties in our area. The organization offers all kinds of services to all kinds of people. 

Many of those free services are just a phone call or text away.

"What we do is we answer phone calls, we take texts, and we have a web site that allows individuals to have access to human services," CEO Gert McGowan said. 

Those services can include resources for food, utility, or shelter. Or, if you're having a crisis situation, such as contemplating suicide, you can also call 2-1-1. The helpline has crisis trained workers to help you through a situation.

You don't have to be in a crisis to call 2-1-1. 

"We are here whether, you know, what you feel is a small question or a big question. Call us. Text us. Go online," Amber Loomis said. She's the Chief Advancement Officer for Family Service Association of NEPA. 

Since the coronavirus pandemic hit, there have been plenty of questions, and a lot more calls to the PA 211 Northeast helpline.

"Right now, it's probably about 300 more calls a week than we saw, about 50 percent over, so 150 percent of what we did last year," CEO Gert McGowan said.

Those who help with 211 tell Newswatch 16 that there are a lot of individuals that aren't used to being in this situation, possibly never laid off before and even need guidance filing for unemployment. 211 can help with that as well. 

How to text 211:

In addition to dialing 2-1-1, you can also text the trained crisis workers for help by texting "your zip code" to 8-9-8-2-1-1.

RELATED: 2-1-1: A Life-Saving Helpline