United Way Issues Urgent Plea For Donations

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The United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties has extended its annual fundraising campaign through February 14th, the local non-profit has announced. The campaign, which was originally scheduled to conclude on January 31st, is projected to finish with a total of $2.2 million in pledges based upon trends. This year’s goal is $2.8 million and United Way reported that 100 percent of its 45 partner agencies and its board of directors were currently contributing to the campaign.

“We have met a difficult obstacle in our fundraising campaign due to the current state of the economy,” said Brian Hercules, President and CEO of the local United Way. “Ironically, as the impact of the economy causes a reduction in donations, the needs from our agencies increase.”

The funds raised during the United Way campaign are allocated back to its 45 partner agencies through an application process that considers outcomes, impact, and other sources of funding for the agency.

A recent calculation done by United Way estimated that if each household in Rutherford and Cannon counties donated $50 per year (which is less than $1.00 per week), the fundraising campaign would total over $6 million.

he funds that are allocated back to the partner agencies intend to meet the most serious community needs first and often impact people who are not always aware they are utilizing an United Way agency. In fact, United Way agencies directly impacted over 93,000 people (about one-third of the population) in Rutherford and Cannon counties last year.

During the 2008-2009 campaign, the highest amount of pledges to date was secured with $2.734 million; however, there were $1.4 million in unmet requests from partner agencies due to lack of funding. Shortages in funding for partner agencies often result in a reduction of services provided or number of people served.

For example, the Boys and Girls Club was forced to reduce their services by nearly 400 hours last year. Moreover, this year, $1,000 less in funding for the Domestic Violence Program may mean that approximately 19 domestic violence victims go without a shelter, counseling and meals. For each $850 decrease in funding for Meals on Wheels, a senior citizen could go without meals for a year. In addition, a $2,000 decline in funding for the Cannon County R.E.A.C.H program could result in seven children no longer receiving tutoring services.

Funding shortages can occur when pledges go unfulfilled due to companies closing or donors who have pledged on a monthly or per paycheck basis lose their job, in addition to other factors that accompany a challenging economical period.

"We're turning to our communities in these final hours of the fund-raising campaign with this direct, simple message: We need your help so we can help others,” said campaign chairman Andrew Oppmann.

"Anything we can do in these last days will make a difference in the lives of people who need our aid now more than ever."

Options for donating to the United Way include online at www.uwrutherford.org, contacting United Way to receive pledge forms for payroll deduction or a company campaign, joining the Over the Top Club with a $100 donation ($250 for organizations and companies) and being featured weekly in The Daily News Journal, or simply mailing a check donation to United Way at P.O. Box 330056, Murfreesboro, TN 37133.

Donors who pledge $6.00 per week (or a one-time gift of $300) will automatically be entered into a chance to win either a Ford Focus or Chevrolet Aveo donated from Alexander Automall.

The United Way and its 45 partner agencies and programs work to advance the common good in Rutherford and Cannon counties by focusing on the essentials for building a strong community: education, income and health. The United Way of Rutherford and Cannon Counties is located at 615 Memorial Boulevard, Suite 200 in Murfreesboro. For more information, please call (615) 893-7303 or visit www.uwrutherford.org.
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