By Debra Minor Wilson
Times West Virginian
If you get a phone call from the United Way of Marion County today, be nice.
Give. Even a $5 donation can help.
Just imagine all the good it will do.
The United Way of Marion County, always there for those in need, now needs a little help from you.
It’s $105,000 short of reaching its $425,000 goal for 2013, and due to circumstances such as businesses downsizing or closing, will face a $35,000 shortfall if the trend continues.
Today’s Telephone Blitz from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. is banking on your generosity to help bridge this gap.
Pledges made today need not be paid until next December, and you can choose Bill Me for monthly or quarterly installments, credit card, EFT (automatic debit) and good old-fashioned cash or checks.
This is where that fiver in your wallet can help.
“Our 22 agencies depend on us, and if we can’t meet our obligations to them, in turn, they won’t be able to provide the basic needs,” said campaign co-chair Rosemary Phillips.
“So every penny does count.”
“People have been laid off. The money they used to spend on Christmas gifts, they’re now spending on food,” Phillips said.
“It’s a serious issue.”
No specific goal has been set for the blitz, she said.
“We’re trying to reach new businesses and individuals who haven't contributed. This has been an unusual year for the United Way and the county as a whole,” she said. Funding has decreased while needs have increased.
For example, the Soup Opera is serving 140 more meals daily than this time last year,
“That’s a little scary,” she said.
“As needs increase incrementally over the next 12 months, that puts a tremendous strain on resources,” Phillips said.
“There is a black-out period when the United Way is having its campaign that the agencies cannot raise funds. That ends Dec. 31.
“We’re concerned that not only we may not meet our goals but also they will have difficult times raising funds. If we’re not meeting our goal and they're not meeting theirs, that will be detrimental to the county.
“People have only so much money. But it’s amazing how much a $5 donation, multiplied, can make a significant impact.”
Some businesses have downsized or closed, meaning fewer employees to make payroll donations and new clients needing the agencies’ help, she said
“It is through your contributions that we are able to assist the agencies to provide for the need of those individuals,” said United Way director Tiffany Samuels.
The United Way supports 22 agencies in Marion County that come to the aid of anyone in need.
“This has been an unusual year for the United Way, as it has been for our county as a whole,” Samuels said.
Donations are down and demands are up.
In 2011, the Marion County Chapter of the American Red Cross assisted 19 single-family house fires, helping 48 Marion County men, women and children.
In 2012, it gave aid in 28 single-family house fires, helping 83 Marion County men, woman and children.
Even if donations have decreased, the needs continue to increase, Samuels said. “More of our neighbors are in need.”
It’s a classic case of supply (decreased donations) and demand (more needs).
If the goal isn’t reached, agencies may need to cut back on the amount and level of services.
“There may be wait lists or times when people go without services,” she said.
She’s fully confident they’ll make goal, she said.
“I’d like to reach it by year’s end so we can wrap it up and also plan for next year,” she said.
This year’s goal was down $25,000 from the 2012 goal in anticipation of changes in the local economy, she said.
“But we were not able to foresee a change of this magnitude. I don’t know if we would have decreased it any further because the needs have not decreased.
“We set the market at exactly what the agencies need to maintain their level of service. It’s just going to be a little more difficult to reach.”
You can still make donations if you haven’t already, she said.
Several fun fundraiser are coming up, too.
• The Oldies Dance and Taste of Marion County is set for 7 p.m. Friday at the Elks Lodge of Fairmont No. 294, 419 Adams St, combines classic oldies with tasty treats from local eateries.
For only $20 a person, you can rock to the sounds of Jenna Won’t Sing from 7-10 p.m., and snack on a variety of foods from Marion County eateries. Plus, you can test your luck in silent and live auctions.
“In my opinion, this is one of the most fun events of the year,” Samuels said. “It will be a blast. There will be something for everyone.”
Tickets may be purchased in Fairmont at Accessories by Marlena at Jack and Jill on Fairmont Avenue, The Firehouse Café on Adams Street and at Rider Pharmacy on Merchant Street, or from members of the Board of Directors of the United Way or from the United Way Office.
For additional information or to make reservations, call Mary Jo Thomas at 304-366-2912 or the United Way Office at 304-366-4550.
• The fifth annual Celebration of Lights brings the excitement of holiday decorations to Morris Park from 5-9 p.m. every Friday, Saturday and Sunday through Dec. 29, weather permitting. More than 125 new displays have been added. Admission is $5 per carload. It is sponsored by the South Fairmont Rotary Club, and all proceeds go to the United Way of Marion County.
• Denim for a Week returns Jan. 13-17, 2014, at participating businesses. Individuals can make donations to wear jeans that week. The United Way earned $4,000 from the event in August.
“We want to give our sincere appreciation to everyone who has contributed to the United Way, or if they have not contributed, will consider doing it,” Phillips said.
For more information on the United Way of Marion County or any of these events, call 304-366-4550.
Email Debra Minor Wilson at email@example.com.