A reminder that good people do exist

This last week brought two major reminders of just how amazing our area can be, as well as how many of our own neighbors might need a helping hand.

The Weirton United Way kicked off its campaign officially on Monday. This year, as with everything else, the campaign will be different. There is no actual campaign chair or vice chair. There have not been any events held, although the annual Fall Golf Tournament is set for next weekend…I’ve heard it has sold out, but there is a waiting list for participants.

That’s a huge change from the traditional campaign, and the impact will be felt, as the special events account for almost half of the funds brought in each year.

There are 12 area agencies assisted by the Weirton United Way. All are local, or provide local services, so all funds raised through the United Way campaign stay in the area.

These are services available for thousands of our area residents, whether it be help with food and clothing, paying medical bills, literacy programs or what have you.

With no events, and other adjustments being made, it is going to be more difficult to raise the money needed for the member agencies. This means it is even more important for those who are able to find a way to contribute.

Any amount can help, as United Way Executive Director Linda Stear often says. Every dollar will benefit someone in our community.

So, I ask that if you have a few extra dollars available, consider making a contribution. You never know how it will help your neighbors.

Also this week, one of the United Way’s member agencies, the Salvation Army, is reaching out for one of its own major annual projects.

Tuesday afternoon, I met with Lt. Gene Hunt to hear about their plans for the holiday season. The Salvation Army always holds a food distribution to provide residents in need with Thanksgiving and Christmas dinners. They also try to provide toys and other necessities for area children. This is all on top of the Salvation Army’s regular services, which include a food pantry, thrift shop, utility assistance and periodic food distributions in association with the Mountaineer Food Bank.

Lt. Hunt anticipates seeing around a 25 percent increase (maybe more) in requests for assistance this year as a result of the COVID pandemic.

In recent months, as more people have found themselves out of work and facing other obstacles, more of our neighbors have found themselves in need of a helping hand.

Our area has been relatively fortunate when it comes to the effects of this virus. However, we still face challenges as a result of the downturn in the steel industry and the efforts to rebuild the economy over the last 20 years haven’t seen as many fruits as people would like.

Despite the relatively low numbers of COVID infections, the virus didn’t do us any favors. Some folks have been out of work in recent months, and are finding themselves in situations they probably never imagined.

The people of the Ohio Valley have always been good about looking out for each other. Whether just in our own neighborhoods or finding a way to help someone in another part of your county, we’ve been known as a generous people in some of the worst of times.

Christmas may be a few months away, but that spirit of giving lives on throughout the year, and I’m sure, even with our current situation, that will continue.

(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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