United Way sets $950,000 campaign goal
The United Way of Union County launched its annual campaign last week with a goal of raising $950,000 in 2012.
"This is about Union County," said Shari Marsh, United Way's executive director. "This is about our community. The help is happening right here, not in Columbus or Washington, D.C. Our agencies are serving a greater number of people (every year) and they're being stretched to their limits."
The nearly $1 million goal is a tall order made more difficult by a quirk in the payroll deduction process at many businesses.
"Two-thirds of the residents in Union County commute out of Union County for work, to Franklin, Delaware, Marion and elsewhere," said Dave Bezusko, United Way's campaign and public relations director.
"So if those employees have payroll deduction at work, they have to remember to check the Union County box or the contribution may not make its way back home," he said.
United Way's annual campaign accounts for more than 90 percent of its revenues, which are used to fund local partner agencies that provide social-service programs to more than 18,000 Union County residents in four "impact areas": emergency and basic needs, health and human services, youth services and senior services.
"A lot of what we do does happen a little bit behind the scenes," Bezusko said. "We help fund food pantries and homeless shelters and prevention programs -- but we also fund the Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts, early childhood literacy and day care for Union County."
Bezusko said another hidden gem is the United Way Youth Arts and Recreation Grants program for low-income families.
"That's a terrific program," he said. "It helps families pay for things such as sports participation fees so that their kids can play and don't have to watch the action from the sidelines."
Other United Way agencies provide socialization, companionship and independence programs for seniors, prescription medication assistance and cancer support for the sick.
A group of 27 United Way board members and campaign committee volunteers already have pledged $28,369 to get the ball rolling.
Doug Hoy of Scotts Miracle-Gro is the campaign's co-chairman.
"I've got a good seat here," he said. "Being on the inside allows me see United Way's power and its effectiveness in reaching people who need the most help. It's great to be a part of it."
More than three dozen Marysville and Union County employers have agreed to conduct United Way campaigns this fall, but there will be other ways to give.
More than 13,000 "giving" fliers have been mailed to area residents this week. And donors can mail a check to P.O. Box 145, Marysville, Ohio, 43040. Online giving via PayPal is available at unitedwayofunioncounty.org.
Last year, more than 3,900 donors helped United Way surpass its $900,000 goal, raising $938,329. The average gift was $161.
"We've come a long way from the first 'united appeal,' which raised $35,000 for six local charities," Bezusko said.