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The Sanford Herald, Sept. 16th, 2015

Sept. 16, 2015, 4:04 p.m. · 0 comments

Beginning at home:

Fall means start of United Way campaign

Sept. 15, 2015

Sanford, North Carolina

By Jan Hayes, Executive director, United Way of Lee County

Fall is here once again. Despite some sweltering temperatures, making it feel like summer may never end, all of the other telltale signs have arrived. Children finally have settled into their new classrooms. Football season has kicked off at area universities. And the annual United Way campaign has begun.

Granted, the annual United Way fundraising campaign doesn’t attract as much attention as “back-to-school” sales and tailgating. However, that doesn’t mean it’s not important. In fact, money raised by United Way of Lee County over the next few months will be used by about 18 Lee County nonprofits to help our friends and neighbors when they need it most.

That includes helping women escape domestic violence, providing essential medical care for low-income neighbors who can’t afford health insurance, allowing people with disabilities to experience some freedom and independence, caring for homeless families breaking away from poverty, helping youth develop strong study habits and important leadership skills — the list goes on.

Even better, money raised during the fall campaign doesn’t just help United Way partner agencies. It strengthens nonprofits across our entire community. Corporate contributions made during the annual campaign pay for community-wide projects like VolunteerLee.com and Charity Tracker.

VolunteerLee.com is a local website connecting volunteers with schools, churches and other nonprofits needing their help. Any organization can get involved by registering on the website and posting their needs. It’s quick and easy, and hundreds of people already have responded.

CharityTracker is a secure, online service allowing local groups to coordinate what they provide to people requesting help. It has been a godsend for local nonprofits. Now that local agencies can avoid giving the same food or financial assistance to the same people, even more families can be served. Thanks to CharityTracker, 70 more Lee County children had something to unwrap at Christmas — and that was just during the initial trial run.

But the success of any United Way campaign rests on individual donations — employees making a pledge during their workplace campaign and families making donations large and small.

And those smaller donations do matter. They matter a lot, because local nonprofits can tap into food banks, corporate matching programs and other special arrangements that stretch dollars further than you can imagine. Want some examples? About $50 dollars will purchase 275 pounds of food to feed struggling families, $36 dollars will send two books per month to an underprivileged child for the entire year and $25 will provide emergency communication between a military family and their deployed loved one.

At a time when every dollar counts, it’s important to contribute to groups that use donations wisely. When Forbes published a list of “five all-star charities” three years ago, United Way Worldwide made that select list. The magazine noted that United Way affiliates are governed by independent review boards, audits and limits on marketing tactics.

That’s exactly what happens here with United Way of Lee County. Every agency requesting financial assistance is thoroughly evaluated by community volunteers, and their recommendations are forwarded to a board with representatives from local governments, churches, companies and nonprofits. You probably know many of them; they’re listed as part of the leadership team on the United Way website.

So, as your children head out to school this week or you turn on the big game, don’t forget that there’s more happening this fall. The United Way annual campaign is happening all around, and this is your perfect opportunity to learn more about the great things happening in our community and to help struggling neighbors reach their goals.

Here's a link to the original article.

Categories: Press

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