(KYTX) - Claude Ervin thought he was going to find himself in the dark after receiving a $600 electricity bill.
"I don't know how it got to be that much, but it was up there," said Ervin.
The bill was too much for Mr. Ervin and his wife who live on social security. He needs to keep the electricity on to take care of his sick wife.
"Especially with my wife and she's on oxygen," added Ervin.
The Ervins turned to PATH, a non-profit in Tyler that help people in need. The agency was able to take care of their big bill.
"We could not have that same community impact without our partner agencies, because they are the lifeline for our customers," said Kim Campbell, senior manager for TXU.
At a press conference Tuesday morning, TXU announced it would donate $5 million to help people like Mr. Ervin.
"For a lot of people , it takes a lot of guts for them to call us up and say I don't know if I can pay my electric bill," said Karen Swenson.
Karen Swenson is the executive director of the Greater East Texas Community Action Program.
Her organization uses the money from TXU to help people in 10 East Texas counties pay their bills.
"We see hundreds of people every month. We served over 5,000 in Smith County last year. So the need is enormous, absolutely enormous," said Swenson.
A need, she said, will probably grow as more people find themselves living from paycheck to paycheck.
"With the economy continuing to struggle, the cost of gasoline going through the roof, our families are struggling. They're doing the best with what they have, but unfortunately, sometimes it doesn't stretch far enough," explained Swenson.
Agencies in East Texas have certain criteria for bill assistance programs. Most are based on your household income.
It doesn't matter your energy provider, most agencies will try to help you out. For help, call 211.