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United Way becoming whistle blowers

NATCHEZ — Holiday fundraising in Natchez will be complete with all the bells and whistles this year.

Well, maybe not the bells.

When the Natchez Salvation Army closed in November 2010 due to slow sales and high crime rates, it took its patent on bell ringing outside of stores for fundraising with it, United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou Executive Director Tiffany Mascagni said.

So United Way will answer with whistles to attract attention, she said, which works out because they’re going to capitalize on their long-time partnership with the NFL to host the United Way/NFL Holiday Fundraiser.

“The volunteers are going to be dressed in football jerseys, and instead of numbers on the jerseys, we’ll have ‘175,000,’ which is our campaign goal (for the year),” Mascagni said. “There will be a giant football for people to put their donations in.”

The event will run 10 a.m.-8 p.m. Fridays and Saturdays from Nov. 25 to Dec. 23 in the Walmart parking lot, she said. At least two volunteers will be present at all times.

In the 2010 holiday season, she said, there was no one to collect the money that the Salvation Army had previously solicited. But this year, since United Way had more time to plan for the Salvation Army’s absence, Mascagni said she hopes to get local clubs involved.

“I feel (the fundraiser is) very important, because some of the other agencies are tied in on a national level, and when they do holiday fundraisers, the money goes (out nationally),” Mascagni said. “Even though the Salvation Army is no longer here, other agencies have to take up the slack.”

No goal has been set for the Holiday fundraiser, but $175,000 is United Way’s annual goal, she said.

“We don’t know what Salvation Army raised, we just don’t want that (money) to go untapped,” she said. “People are more inclined to give during the holiday season.”

Mascagni said other fundraisers throughout the year that contribute to their overall goal include the annual golf tournament — which was June 9 — and the jambalaya cook off, which will be Aug. 26.

Collections will be distributed to places such as the Catholic charities, the Guardian Shelter, the Red Cross and Adams County 4-H, according to information provided by United Way.

If someone is interested in getting involved with the holiday fundraiser, Mascagni said he or she should contact her or Tammy Prince at 601-442-1081, or e-mail Prince at tprince@unitedwaymisslou.org.