United Way's $2.8M goal ambitious, but needed

United Way of the Lowcountry's decision to raise its annual campaign goal to a record $2.8 million despite falling short of last year's $2.6 million goal seems counterintuitive.

But the goal reflects the ever-increasing demand for services in Beaufort and Jasper counties, and it's one this community can reach if we all help.

United Way of the Lowcountry helps support 39 agencies and programs. The services provided help make this community stronger. They include:

  • Food, clothing and shelter in times of crisis and disaster recovery efforts, and toys and food during the holidays.
  • Training for parents, tutoring and recreation, affordable child care, teen pregnancy prevention, swimming and water safety classes.
  • Affordable housing, shelter for abused adults and children, safe septic tanks and clean drinking water, literacy programs.
  • Meals for seniors, delivery of surplus food, help for patients and families coping with AIDS/HIV and counseling for caregivers and the victims of violent crime.
  • Nearly $423,000 for this year's campaign already has been collected from 130 "pacesetters," companies that contribute before the public campaign begins. That's a strong start although behind last year's $675,000 collected at 171 companies.

    But individual contributions are the backbone of the fundraising effort here, accounting for about 50 percent of donations. And as United Way chairwoman Elizabeth Lamkin indicated, any size donation helps reach that ambitious goal.

    "No matter how small a donation, we need it," Lamkin said. "We'll take a dollar."

    Bonnie Bennett, the Jasper County campaign vice chairwoman, offered statistics that brought home why every dollar counts, particularly in trying economic times.

    "At least one-third of the adults who live and work in our community function at the two lowest literacy levels," Bennett said. "Twenty-two percent of our children under the age of 5 live in poverty. Over two million pounds of food was provided to the hungry last year."

    Please give all you can to help those in need.