KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -- Rising utility bills could create additional hardships for families who are already struggling.

The Salvation Army said it is already preparing for winter, collecting coats, hats and gloves to distribute when the temperature drops.

Jennifer Stepp, the divisional housing services manager for the KC metro area, said the Salvation Army and other nonprofits are also collecting donations for Project Warmth to help families pay their gas and electric bills.

"You've got to keep the lights on," she explained. "With the rising costs, something isn't going to get paid. Our gas in our vehicles is going up. Everything's going up. Paychecks aren't going up to offset that."

The U.S. Energy Information Administration said earlier this month that most families will see an increase in utility costs this winter of nearly 30% from last year.

Stepp said families who are experiencing a hardship should not hesitate to reach out to an organization for help.

"Don't wait for the disconnect. Don't wait for the crisis," she said. "If you know you're going to be short and that utility bill is due, come to us. There's no judgement. Everyone's suffering, everyone's been through it. Let us help."

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