The number of mass layoffs may be much lower than it was three years ago, but when job loss happens to you, it doesn't really matter that fewer people are getting pink slips.

The financial hit hurts just the same.

For the Delaware County boroughs of Marcus Hook and Trainer, the pending closure of oil refineries by Sunoco Inc. and ConocoPhillips will eliminate the jobs of more than 900 workers in early 2012. That's a big hit for two small towns.

While the companies continue to try to find buyers for their sprawling complexes on the Delaware River, a nonprofit group representing financial planners intends to host a free seminar next week on what to do when facing the loss of a job.

The Financial Planning Association's Philadelphia Tri-State Area Chapter will tap volunteers from its 720 members for the event, to be at the Ramada Philadelphia Airport Hotel on Route 291, Essington, from 6 to 9 p.m. next Wednesday.

Organizers encourage those Delaware County residents interested in attending to register at the group's website, www.fpaphilly.org, so they can better marshal their pro bono resources. But walk-ins are welcome, said Mark Rioboli, president of the FPA's local chapter.

In fact, it's a good idea to go to that website anyway because the group has posted an eight-page booklet on what to do when you become unemployed. The initial shock felt by those who have lost their jobs can be "tremendous," Rioboli said. "It's an unsettling time."

The FPA will conduct

two group sessions covering a lot of concepts in a

broad fashion, he said. It will also offer one-on-one counseling with planners at which workers can ask anything.

Common questions involve how to read a severance package, whether someone should file for unemploy-

ment, and how to determine the affordability of health benefits provided under federal COBRA regulations.

This is the same organiza-

tion that held the free Phila-

delphia Financial Planning Day in connection with the Nutter administration on a Saturday in October. The same rules will apply: Volunteers are forbidden from selling products or handing out business cards.

What's great is how quickly this event was pulled together. Two weeks ago, I was part of a lively discussion at an FPA event involving the unpleasant short-term future for hun-

dreds of refinery workers. Talk about the ultimate financial-planning challenge.

These workers and their families must confront not only the immediate loss of income, but the real likelihood that buyers might not emerge for the region's money-losing refineries, and that they'll have to find work in another field.

Out of that discussion came this event, Rioboli said.

So, four days before Christmas, during a season known for giving, these financial planners will donate what advice they

can to help the unemployed and soon-to-be jobless

make plans to cope with the harsh reality 2012 will bring.

Contact columnist Mike Armstrong at 215-854-2980
or marmstrong@phillynews.com, or @PhillyInc on Twitter.
Read his blog, "PhillyInc,"