Needy Family Fund: Mifflinburg couple struggling this holiday

MIFFLINBURG — The bathtub falling in was the wake-up call.  Frank Bickel Jr., 52, of Mifflinburg, and his fiancé, Marlene Gover, 57, had been in their mobile home in Snyder County for about five years when, in September, the bathtub just fell clean through the floor, he said.

Fortunately, neither Bickel nor Gover were in the bathtub at the time, but the event scared Bickel enough.  “I told her these trailer homes can be unsafe,” he said.  Both have health issues that keep them from working.

In Bickel’s case, it’s diabetes and resulting complications with his heart, which forced him to leave his job of 12 years at Paper Magic Group. He also takes about seven medications a day and injects himself with insulin twice daily.  So the couple sought about finding a new home. That was easier said than done.

The couple looked in Union County, but Section 8 housing vouchers there were on hold, given a shortfall of funding from the federal sequester, so that help was unavailable.

They were able to find a 16-foot by 30-foot cottage in Forest Hill for $700 a month that includes everything but telephone. It even came furnished. But with a very limited income between the two, the rent is just less than half what they get every month from Social Security and state assistance.

“It was going to be a pretty rough Christmas,” Bickel said, but he learned about the Needy Family Fund through the Salvation Army and applied. Thanks to the fund, Bickel and Gover will have food on the table this holiday and possibly some new clothes, he said.  “It will be a help,” he said. “It’s just the two of us, so getting the help with food, which is a lot.”

The Needy Family Fund provides food, clothes, toys and more to Valley families in need.  It is a joint effort between the Milton and Sunbury Salvation Army, Susquehanna Bank, The Daily Item and the radio stations of Sunbury Broadcasting Corporation.  This year’s goal is $75,000.  You can donate to any branch of Susquehanna Bank. (Daily Item)