United Way official calls donations encouragingWith this year’s fundraising campaign only recently begun, a Mitchell United Way official is encouraged by the donations that have come in so far.
By: Melanie Brandert, The Daily Republic
With this year’s fundraising campaign only recently begun, a Mitchell United Way official is encouraged by the donations that have come in so far.
United Way set this year’s goal at $446,000 — 3 percent lower than last year — when the organization kicked off the campaign Aug. 19.
Executive Director Dave Stevens said he has noticed that businesses and residents so far are contributing slightly more than last year.
For example, one small retailer, whom he would not identify, pledged a 15 percent increase over 2008.
“I’m optimistic with what I’ve seen from residents who haven’t contributed before and businesses that are new to giving,” Stevens said.
“I think people realize there is a greater need and want to make more of an effort to help during these economic times.”
Funds raised by the United Way are distributed to many local agencies — such as Abbott House, LifeQuest, Dakota Counseling Institute, Stepping Stones, the Salvation Army and others — that work to meet the needs of less-fortunate residents of the Mitchell area.
Mitchell United Way appears to be the first in the state to start its annual fundraising campaign. Stevens said Yankton started its annual United Way drive on Aug. 28 to coincide with the high school’s first home football game as a kickoff event. Sioux Empire United Way in Sioux Falls will begin its campaign today.
Pam Olinger, a United Way board member and partner with the Endorf Lurken Olson and Co. accounting firm in Mitchell, said employees were shown a campaign presentation video Thursday morning.
She noted that it highlighted many agencies’ greater needs because of the economy, yet recognized the recession’s effect.
The firm will match employees’ contributions, and Olinger said she hopes the plan will generate more donations. Last year, ELO gave a four-figure amount.
“As accountants, we know better than anybody who is getting hit the hardest,” she said. “I still expect them to give.”
As a board member, Olinger said she is enthused with the higher amounts being donated.
“The Mitchell community is an incredibly giving community,” she said. “I believe the community will take to heart what is happening. I think they are going to step up to the plate and help any way they can.”
Stevens said he would like to wrap up campaign presentations within the next 30 days. The goal is to end the campaign by Oct. 23.
Anyone who wants to hear a United Way presentation can call Stevens at 996-3915.