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United Way set to kickoff fund drive

By By BILL CRIST – Standard Publisher
The signs haven't gone up in City Park yet, but they're coming. The letters haven't hit the Post Office yet, but they are on the way. Campaign materials are still being created and they'll be printed soon. A year of planning and behind-the-scene work is about to be made public.
The United Way of Brewton and East Brewton is set to kickoff its fundraising campaign for 2003. After the success of last year's campaign, enthusiasm is high among board members. There is a great deal of work to be done if this year's campaign is going to reach its goal of $80,000, though. And while our city is certainly blessed with many generous businesses and foundations, the key to success for United Way, and other fundraising agencies, ultimately lies with individual donors.
Several years ago, United Way came up with the concept of "Fair Share." When campaign volunteers spoke to office groups, the question of how much to donate often came up. A donor's "Fair Share" was determined to be one hour's pay per month. For most of us that's about 1/160th of our income which seems pretty reasonable. At the risk of offending many potential donors, though, not enough of us are doing our "Fair Share."
Too often, it seems, when a need arises in our community, the first place groups turn to for money is the trusts and businesses. The mission of those trusts is to support good causes, and there is no questioning that they do an outstanding job of that. The business community is also called on to donate to charitable causes, and likewise, they are more than generous. However, when it comes to individuals donating, it appears that often times we fall back on our employer or the trusts to give for us.
That certainly doesn't apply to all the individuals in our community, because Brewton is blessed with people who open their checkbooks time and again when the need arises. But when you look at what other cities of similar size are able to raise for United Way, it's obvious Brewton and East Brewton have plenty of room to grow. When you hear about the struggle that the group trying to bring Kid One transport to our area is having raising funds, that shortcoming is reinforced.
Obviously individuals have the right to pick and choose which church, charities and organizations they are going to support, if they choose to support any at all. That's the reason it's a donation and not a tax. Each of us has circumstances that dictate what kind of resources we are able to contribute to worthy causes. For some of us, donating time or service is a more attractive way to give something back to the community. In many instances, that kind of donation is even more valuable than any check we would write. But in many cases, it takes cash to buy the materials and provide the services that our charitable groups offer.
This year's United Way fundraising campaign will support 14 area agencies that provide services to people of all ages and backgrounds. That's one more agency than last year, which is an indication of how critical it is that we exceed our goal of $80,000. Every dollar is going to count this year, and every individual donation is going to be vital to our exceeding that goal.
Donors should remember that over 99 percent of the money raised during this year's campaign will go directly to the local agencies. That's something unique to United Way and is an important distinction to keep in mind when you are making choices about which charity to support.
Brewton is a generous town, a reputation that is hard earned and well deserved. Over the next eight weeks you'll be hearing a lot more about United Way and the valuable community agencies it supports. When asked to make a donation this year, individuals should consider doing their "Fair Share."
be contacted via email at bill.crist@brewtonstandard.com