United Way drive plans kickoff

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Lincoln County charities are running at full steam to meetvarious needs in time for Christmas, but the United Way is aimingmuch, much higher.

The local chapter of the national organization is preparing tokick off its 2009 donation drive with a breakfast at 7:30 a.m. onTuesday, Dec. 9, at Western Sizzlin’. United Way is seeking toraise $175,000 for distribution to what co-chairwoman Sue Mintercalled a “myriad” of local charities and organizations in LincolnCounty.

“All of our money is raised in order to turn right back aroundand put into the community,” said Minter, who is leading thecampaign with her husband James. “For the most part, it helps ourchildren.”

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The United Way provides supplemental funding – sometimes morethan can be called supplemental – to local organizations likeBrookhaven Outreach Ministries, the Boys and Girls Club of LincolnCounty, the Widows and Orphans Center of Mississippi Inc., and Boyand Girl Scouts. The organization also shores up youth-basedgovernment functions like the Brookhaven Recreation Department.

“It has to be an organization that helps us put money back intoour community in a lot of different ways,” Minter said. “If thereis a small amount that goes out of this county, I can’t tell youwhat it is. Practically every bit goes back into thecommunity.”

Minter said the application deadline for organizations torequest United Way funding has passed for the current drive, andorganizations in need should begin planning for next year’srequest.

The donation phase, however, is only beginning.

Minter said United Way volunteers are organized into differentcommittees, with members geared toward soliciting donations fromthe city’s different business and private sectors like industries,small businesses and individuals. Those members will approach theirsectors with information cards that record the donator’sinformation.

The quickest, easiest way to donate to the United Way is throughthe payroll deduction plan, where a desired amount may be deductedfrom an employee’s paycheck just like taxes and insurance payments.Minter said interested people should ask their employers to set upa deduction plan for them; most local companies have the optionavailable.

Even residents working outside of the county can give back tothe local United Way. Minter said some of the organization’slargest and most consistent contributors are offshore workers, whocan name their home county and have payroll deductions mailedin.

Donations may also be made directly by contacting Pam Cartwrightat the Brookhaven-Lincoln County Chamber of Commerce at (601)833-1411.

The drive will last well into 2009, but Minter said the UnitedWay hopes to begin amassing funds quickly.

“We can raise [money] all year, but we want the bulk of it assoon as possible,” she said.

Minter said the organization is hoping for a strong and earlystart to the donation drive because economic uncertainty is takinga toll on the United Way, as it is on all charitable causes. Shesaid some of the funding requests have had to be cut backrecently.

“We really haven’t had to cut a lot, but we couldn’t giveeverybody everything they wanted,” she said. “We just don’t knowwhat we’ll be able to raise next year. We have to look at theentities we helped last year, see what they ask for this year anddo our best to meet it. You just pray.”

Minter said she isn’t worried about the economy’s negativeimpact, pointing to the long-standing charitable mindset ofBrookhavenites.

“We’re going to be able to help the people we’ve been helpingbecause the people of Brookhaven are generous people,” she said.”There’s just a pleasure you get from being able to help otherpeople. Have you ever had a child or grandchild who benefited fromthe Boys and Girls Club, the Scouts or anything from the cityrecreation department? If you have, they’ve benefited from theUnited Way.”