BALTIMORE (WJZ) — As record inflation continues to drive up the prices of just about everything, those already struggling are having an even harder time making ends meet.

Arielle Smith is a single, teenage mother grappling with the rising cost of life, but the United Way of Maryland stepping up to help her and other families.

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Baby Ava is Smith’s bundle of joy, but Airiel says providing for her Ava amidst this inflation has been anything but joyful.

“We had the formula shortage. And then I had to worry about getting the pampers, the wipes,” she said. “I’m pretty much reliant on my mama because I’m going to school.”

Arielle’s got one more summer school class to go before she gets her diploma…but says she wouldn’t have made it without the United Way’s Family Center here at Francis M. Wood High School.

“The center is my saving grace and life,” she said. “They help me with my mental health and what I need. And when I am running low on stuff for Ava – wipes, soaps, lotions – they got it!”

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United Way of Central Maryland says their helpline call volume is up as more and more families struggle to afford everyday needs.

“Most of these calls are for needs like housing, healthcare, food, utility assistance,” said Franklyn Baker, CEO of United Way Central Maryland. “Lots of stress around the fact that there seems to be no end in sight for what’s going to go up next, whether it’s gas, bread…”

To those who don’t know where to turn, Baker points to resources like their family centers, rental assistance programs, and a 24-hour helpline.

“We’re trying to do our part at UW to assure that we’re making clear opportunities for people to get offsets – whether its food pantries, whether it’s learning a bit more in a job category to make a little bit more money,” Baker said.

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To learn more about United Way or find assistance, visit the United Way of Central Maryland website or call their 211 helpline.

Sina Gebre-Ab