Fund-raising shortfall worries United Way

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 14, 2002

Organizations throughout Lawrence County may be bracing for reduced funding next year.

United Way of the River Cities could fall $150,000 short of its $1.9 million goal of its fall fund-raising campaign that ends at the close of the year. Twenty-nine of the organization's member agencies provide services to Lawrence County residents, and 40 percent of county residents receive services from it.

Executive Director Kheng McGuire cites a poor local economy, layoffs and an uncertain job market as causes for the shortfall in pledges.

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"You can only give out what you raise," she said. "I don't want to panic people. We will work with the agencies, but we can't give what we don't have."

The possible shortfall comes at a time when the need for United Way's services are at an all-time high, said Tara Brannon, communications director. Lawrence County residents have been generous and supportive through the years. Companies such as the Liebert Corporation and Duke Energy have been extremely helpful to the

United Way campaign , McGuire said.

Last year, $149,610 was restricted for use in Lawrence County, and the Lawrence County Campaign raised $107,330.

Jean A. Hamilton of Hamilton Chevrolet in Proctorville and a member of the United Way Board of Directors, said Lawrence County has only raised 36 percent of its $150,000 goal.

"It seems to me that it's our responsibility to help our neighbors," she said. "If everyone could give a little, we could come close."

One of the organizations that could be losing money is the City Welfare Mission in Ironton. The Rev. James Cremeans, director, said the organization received $40,000 from United Way last year, 20 percent of the mission's total budget. He said he has seen an increase in people needing assistance and had asked United Way for an increase in funding after the campaign.

William J. McGee, campaign chairman, said the campaign could be extended into January to raise more money.

Despite trying reach possible donors through several media outlets, McGuire said there has been no increase of donations as of yet. Those donations, however, are tax deductible, and there is no set deadline to pay a donation. Donors can pay throughout 2003, she said.

"We are blessed in life, and we should share that blessing by helping someone with a dollar so that person can get food," she said.