United Way: ‘Lofty goal’ will benefit 25 service organizations

Published 12:00 am Saturday, August 5, 2000

United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou has set a lofty goal this year — $320,000 in fund pledges — but organization officials are optimistic they can achieve it.

&uot;It’s a little more than last year,&uot;&160;director Monica Lynch said. &uot;But we have several new companies doing campaigns. … We’re confident the community is going to get behind us this year.&uot;

United Way of the Greater Miss-Lou gives money to 25 area agencies. Potential donors have a chance to get to know those agencies — and the people they’ve helped — at an agency fair to kick off this year’s campaign.

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The agency fair will be held from 5 to 7 p.m. Tuesday at the Natchez Senior Citizen Multi-Purpose Center on Martin Luther King Jr. Street in Natchez.

At the fair, representatives from the 25 agencies such as Salvation Army, American Red Cross and the Guardian Shelter for Abused Women will provide information about the services their organizations provide.

United Way takes donations from individuals and corporations. Many businesses in the area conduct their own campaigns and allow employees to give donations that come straight from their paychecks. Then the businesses often match those employee pledges.

Campaign Co-Chairman Cliff Merritt, president of Louisiana Central Bank in Vidalia, La., said he is looking forward to this year’s campaign.

&uot;We are very excited about the campaign kickoff,&uot; said Merritt, who is serving his second year as co-chairman of the campaign. He has been volunteering with United Way for about 20 years.

The efforts United Way uses to encourage giving, such as the agency fair, can help influence potential donors to give, Merritt said. &uot;I think it’s very important,&uot; he said. &uot;Giving is always a personal choice.&uot;

But it’s a choice agency volunteers and representatives can appreciate.

Manfred Eidt, director of Adams County CASA, said United Way helps his organization continue its efforts to protect children in the youth court system. CASA&160;– Court-Appointed Special Advocates — gives children a voice when they appear in court in cases of child neglect or delinquency.

&uot;We do an independent investigation and make a recommendation whether or not the children should stay in the home,&uot; Eidt said. &uot;We speak exclusively for the children.&uot;

CASA counts on United Way money, along with grants and donations, for rent for office space and money to train volunteers.

United Way helps Catholic Charities fund its counseling program for families, children and couples, said Director Martha Mitternight. The counseling program is one of many services Catholic Charities provides the community.

The program, administered by Sister Clare Hogan, provides counseling at a low cost, Mitternight said.

The United Way agency fair is one way to help potential donors get to know the programs their money will be supporting, she said. &uot;When they know there is a need, they are more than willing to be a part of that,&uot; Mitternight said.