United Way sets sights on fundraising

Published 6:00 am Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Members of the Lincoln County chapter of the United Way shruggedoff talk of a sour economy Tuesday morning and prepared to face thechallenging times head on as they work toward their goal of raisinga six-figure sum to support area programs.

At the organization’s kickoff breakfast, United WayCo-chairwoman Sue Minter had every confidence that donations wouldtrickle in from industries, businesses and private citizens acrossLincoln County and meet the $175,000 goal in 2009.

“I have watched the citizens of Brookhaven and Lincoln County stepup time after time,” she told a gathering of local business,charity and government leaders. “If you look at all theorganizations the United Way supports, you’re going to find that atsome time, someone in your life has benefited from the UnitedWay.”

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Although the United Way’s donation drive will take place throughout2009, Minter said the organization has given itself a six-weekdeadline for distributing its donation cards and to begin receivingthem. The short time frame will allow United Way officials to get aglimpse of the amount of money they will be working with this year,she said.

“It’s kind of like in your church – you have a certain time to askyour members what they can pledge over the year so you can get anidea of your budget,” Minter said.

While the United Way’s budget remains to be seen, its list ofsupported organizations is large and well known. For years, it hasprovided supplemental funding to local programs and departmentslike the Boy and Girl Scouts, Fellowship of Christian Athletes,American Red Cross, Boys and Girls Club, Brookhaven OutreachMinistries, the Guardian Shelter for Battered Families in Natchezand several others.

Last year, the United Way distributed approximately $140,000 tothose and other local groups.

Brookhaven Outreach Ministries Director the Rev. Jerry Durr saidthe United Way’s $27,000 contribution to his organization”tremendously” helps it operate its food pantry and medicalclinic.

“The United Way helps us in all our activities,” he said. “It helpsus try to ease some of the pain in our community. It’s about peoplecoming together to help people, because we are our brother’skeeper.”

The United Way even supports the arts. Brookhaven Little TheatrePresident Tommy Sproles said the United Way’s $2,000 contributionhelps make the Haven’s Summer Drama Camp possible.

“When you don’t have to pay the utilities, that’s huge,” he said.”Without these donations, we might have to reevaluate how we cankeep it going. The United Way has been giving for three years, andthey’ve been helpful.”

Tuesday’s kickoff breakfast was also attended by several of theUnited Way’s supporters. Lincoln County District Four SupervisorDoug Moak said the county’s annual budget appropriation to theUnited Way is a good way for supervisors to make sure several localgroups are supported in one fell swoop.

“I learned a long time ago that the United Way supports a broadarray of thing,” he said. “It’s just a good organization thatreaches out and helps people. It’s a good way for everybody to pooltheir resources.”

A large number of the employees of King’s Daughters Medical Centercontribute to the United Way through payroll deduction. AlvinHoover, the hospital’s administrator, said telling his employeesabout the organization’s needs was all it took to get several onboard.

“The people at the hospital are compassionate,” he said. “Themajority of our employees have given something to the UnitedWay.”

Bank of Brookhaven President and United Way Industrial DivisionChairman Bill Sones said payroll deduction is one of the best waysfor people to donate. It’s the chief means of donating he promoteswhile making United Way presentations at approximately 40 localindustries.

“We try to get employees to give us one hour of pay per month,”Sones said. “It’s not much, but it accumulates. It’s about a lot ofpeople giving a little, not a few people giving a lot.”

Sones’ assessment basically sums up what United Way Co-chairmanJames Minter had to say about the organization’s potential impacton Lincoln County.

“In elementary school, we learned that one plus one equals two,” hesaid. “When we unite, however, one plus one can equal three orfour. When we come together, there’s a higher power at work.”