Just the week before Christmas, all through the county, folks with disabilities got a wonderful bounty.

Be it wheelchair ramp or communications device, dollars to help cover costs will be extra nice.

That’s how Meghan DeBolt sees it, at least.

DeBolt, director of the Department of Community Health, announced in a news release that a collaboration between the Community Health Advisory Board and Walla Walla County commissioners will put $9,000 into a Family Assistance Program fund.

The money is part of an allotment that comes county-wide property tax collection, and by Washington state law goes to community mental health care and to help people living with disabilities.

This year that tax share penciled out to about $156,000, DeBolt said Tuesday.

Local disability agencies have used their share of past allotments to buy a wheelchair-lift van, adapt a playground for children with disabilities, organize a series of expert speakers and host cooking and craft classes for adults with disabilities, she said.

This year, experts in DeBolt’s department asked for money to create a fund to directly help Walla Walla families of people with all types of disabilities pay for items and other expenses not usually paid for by insurance.

Those can include assistive technology — wheelchairs, weighted blankets, grab bars, hearing aids, voice-activated computer and more — to lodging costs associated with taking someone for medical procedures, DeBolt said.

Funding will begin in the new year, and the yearly cap per eligible family is $500; needs above that will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis, she added.

“We’re excited to get it launched,” DeBolt said, noting her department has already received its first Family Assistance request.

For more information on the fund, call Amanda Hinrichs at the health department, 509-524-2678.

Sheila Hagar can be reached at sheilahagar@wwub.com or 509-526-8322.

Sheila Hagar has written for the Walla Walla Union-Bulletin since 1998. Sheila covers education in the Walla Walla Valley. She also writes a column, Home Place, usually highlighting family life and slices of local life.