Living united and working for others

Those who give their time to the Weirton United Way received some good news Friday afternoon during what had been set as the organization’s final report meeting of the 2018 fundraising campaign.

Receiving a standing ovation, officials announced $246,226.98 had been raised, just passing the $240,000 goal set for the year.

I would like to take a moment and offer my congratulations to Campaign Chair Luke Myers and Vice Chair Chris Hatala, as well as Executive Director Linda Stear, staff member Janet Macre and the United Way’s board of directors, on this successful campaign season.

They are the individuals who take the lead in putting together the campaign, guiding the volunteers and making certain every need is addressed in an effort to raise the funds for the local member agencies.

The United Way has had to change with time, with different agencies receiving funds, new events planned and new ways to reach out to the community.

Raising money for the community has never been an easy feat, but in years past, when the Weirton United Way found itself in need of aid to reach its goal, all it took was a phone call and one of the community’s large industrial employers or a generous individual would fill in that missing amount. Those days are long behind us, though, and it often means extending the campaign until every last penny is found.

That’s what makes the Weirton United Way special. While some similar groups set themselves to stay within a certain fundraising period, and just cut the allotments handed out because the goal couldn’t be reached in time, those in Weirton keep fighting to make sure our local agencies are able to continue offering their services.

There are some out there who like to generalize these campaigns because someone told them about other groups across the country and where they send the funds raised.

The Weirton United Way keeps everything local. There are 12 agencies receiving money this year, all of which are either located in Weirton or have a service which directly affects the community.

Those agencies are the American Red Cross of Northwest West Virginia, Catholic Charities West Virginia, Community Bread Basket, Dunbar Recreation Center, Healthways Inc., Hancock/Brooke/Ohio/Marshall RSVP, Hancock County Sheltered Workshop, Hancock County 4-H Foundation, Mary H. Weir Public Library, Salvation Army of Weirton, Weirton Medical Center and the Weirton Christian Center.

Without the Weirton United Way, some of the services offered by these agencies probably wouldn’t be around anymore.

That means fewer meals provided by the Salvation Army or the Community Bread Basket, fewer literacy programs at the library, fewer youth programs offered by the Weirton Christian Center and the Dunbar Recreation Center.

Disaster relief programs would be stretched thin at the Red Cross, Healthways might have some difficulty assisting the mental health of residents, 4-H might not be able to have as many youth at camp.

In many ways, whether we realize it or not, we have all been touched by the efforts of the Weirton United Way. We probably tend to think about those in the most need of our community, but at some point in our lives we’ve most likely all been helped by a United Way agency.

That’s why it is important for those of us who are able to continue showing our support for our local charitable organization as it works to provide its assistance.

(Howell, a resident of Colliers, is managing editor of The Weirton Daily Times, and can be contacted at chowell@weirtondailytimes.com or followed on Twitter @CHowellWDT)

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