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Ways to help your neighbor before their power is disconnected

Many people need help with their JEA bill, and if you're feeling generous, you can make donations to pay for people who are past due.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Time is running out for people with JEA bills that are past due.

The utility company recently announced that they will resume customer disconnections for late payments after Sept. 18. However, there are ways that you can help your neighbors who might be struggling.

On Wednesday First Coast News introduced viewers to Tiffany Orama, a Jacksonville mother of six who was in danger of having her power disconnected as a result of overdue JEA bills. 

After our story aired, multiple viewers reached out to First Coast News offering to help Orama and her kids. We're happy to say that her JEA bill has been paid in full with the help of their generosity. There are multiple options if you are interested in making a similar charitable gift to another person who is struggling.

More than 70,000 JEA customers have late payment notices or past due JEA bills. And based on the hundreds of comments on First Coast News anchor Jeannie Blaylock's Facebook post about this topic, we know that many of you are struggling to pay your bill after it rose significantly over the past few months. But what if you're not struggling, but still want to help keep the lights on for those who are?

"We can all as a community contribute to help our neighbors," said JEA Media Relations Manager Karen McAllister, who said JEA has programs in place called 'Guest Pay' and the 'Neighbor to Neighbor Fund'.

In Guest Pay customers can directly pay someone else's JEA bill if you know who that person is, for example a friend or family member

A link to Guest Pay is here: https://www.jea.com/guestpaylookup

The Neighbor to Neighbor Fund is a little different. In this program JEA customers are invited to pay a little extra on their own monthly JEA bill, which the excess money goes into a community pot.

"Any contribution goes directly to United Way or Catholic charities and is distributed to customers in financial need," said McAllister.

There is no administrative fee on these funds, which are used to help the elderly, disabled or those who struggle to pay their JEA bills. So far this year more than 500 JEA customers have benefited from the Neighbor to Neighbor Fund with an average of about $300 of assistance, according to JEA.

"As a community owned utility we are sensitive to the impact of changes and increases to JEA bills," said McAllister, "we certainly don't want to disconnect anyone from the services that they depend on everyday."

With that said, JEA will resume disconnecting customers from service based on overdue and late payments after the company's 6 week disconnection moratorium expires on September 18th. 

Times are tough for everyone, but if you have the means, there are programs available so you can help make these times a little less difficult for people in Jacksonville who are truly struggling.

If you are in need of assistance click this link to learn more about community groups and programs for people who are struggling with their JEA bill or other financial issues: https://www.jea.com/Residential_Customers/Community_Resources/

RELATED: Mother of 6 about to have power shut off by JEA

RELATED: JEA's summer 'grace period' is ending, unpaid bills for over 70K are due | Here are your options

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