Providing car seats is one the projects of Hope for Johnson County.

A coalition of churches in the Iowa City area is forming a new charitable organization to help fill in gaps in social services.

“Hope for Johnson County” is made up of four congregations and will represent hundreds of members. Dan Feigenspan, with High Point City Church, says the goal is to coordinate across the community to support the work public agencies are already doing. “Old and young alike, retired people have some time, younger people have a real passion to make a difference and to do something,” Feigenspan says. “If we can unite the generations and the varied skills and abilities in our congregations, I think we can see just a real fulfilling effort.”

One of the group’s first projects is addressing a waiting list for child car seats. Johnson County spokeswoman Laurie Nash says they’re facing a backlog of more than 50 families who can’t afford them.  “Even an inexpensive car seat can be, for an infant, close to $100 and that can be a challenge then for many families,” Nash says. “They are not able to leave the hospital unless they have a car seat for their infant.”

The coalition hopes to extend the reach of agencies with limited budgets and address needs the county has already identified. Organizers hope to help in many areas, including the maintaining of homeless shelters.

(Thanks to Kate Payne, Iowa Public Radio)