A chance to help others

Many people like to volunteer to help others and make donations to local charities during the Christmas holiday season, and, as we point out many times, those efforts are greatly appreciated.

But it seems that, sometimes, once the new year begins it becomes easy to turn attention to other matters.

Keep in mind that need is always out there and is constantly around us. Those who are hungry are in as much need of food as they were in December. Those who lack proper clothing will be as cold this week as they were last month. It’s very possible that those who did not have shelter 30 days ago are still searching for a warm, safe place to rest at night.

That’s why it’s important to stay involved in your community, with your church and with your friends and neighbors, not just around Thanksgiving or Christmas, but at all times of the year.

While opportunities to help and make a difference abound, there’s a big one coming up later this week – on Thursday, to be exact, when the United Way of Jefferson County will hold its third-annual web-a-thon. Produced in the newsroom of the Herald-Star and available wherever you’re at on the worldwide web, the event helps bring a little bit of fun to the final drive of the campaign.

During the event, which will be held between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m., a group of volunteers will be making calls to residents throughout the community, asking for them to make their pledge for this year’s campaign. Those who watch the event – on their computer, their tablet or their smart phone – will be able to phone in a pledge or make a payment through a PayPal account.

As in the past, the web-a-thon will include some staples of the old telethons that used to be common on commercial television. There will be entertainment, of course, and interviews with area residents who have been helped by United Way agencies and representatives from the agencies themselves.

It’s been my privilege to have served as host for the first two web-a-thons. I’ll return in that capacity Thursday, only this time I will be joined by Paul Giannamore, copy editor and videoblogger. Production will be handled by Michael D. McElwain, our online editor.

Make no mistake, the web-a-thon will be serious business as the United Way races against its Feb. 15 deadline to reach its goal of $440,000. As of Wednesday’s report luncheon, the campaign stood at 77 percent. The goal is achievable, but only with the help of area residents.

Hard work, yes, but the web-a-thon figures to be fun as well. During the past two years, the event served as a way to energize campaign volunteers to make the final push toward goal. You’ll be able to watch Thursday’s event by visiting heraldstaronline.com or through Ustream.

In the spirit of full disclosure, now’s probably a good time to tell you that I have been involved in many United Way campaigns, as a volunteer, as a board member and during a two-year term as board president.

The Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times have always worked to keep our communities strong, and events like Thursday’s web-a-thon help us continue that mission.

We hope you’ll make plans to participate and show your friends and neighbors that you are willing to stand up and help.

(Gallabrese, a resident of Steubenville, is executive editor of the Herald-Star and The Weirton Daily Times.)