United Way kicks off campaign

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 6, 2008

NATCHEZ — Last month the Food Pantry supplied 2,100 people — or 552 families — in Adams County with basic food products.

These people fall at the national poverty line — an annual income of $10,000 or less.

Mississippi has some of the highest poverty rates in the nation, statistics show.

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Had the Food Pantry not been swept up by Catholic Charities and monetarily supported in its transition by the Isle of Capri, the United Way would have shut the pantry doors Aug. 1.

Thankfully this was not the case and the general theme at the United Way’s campaign kick off Tuesday morning was just that — thanks.

Martha Mitternight, executive director of Catholic Charities, said the food bank’s mission falls perfectly under the overall mission of Catholic Charities.

“The Food Pantry is a logical extension of what our mission is,” she said. “We strive to serve everyone who is vulnerable or at risk in our community.”

She said the people who come to the Food Pantry for assistance make an annual income of about $7,500 a year.

She spoke of how helpful monetary donations are to the agency, that for every $1 donated, $5 or $6 can come back in grant money from a cash match.

“That’s a great return on an investment you make in your community,” she said.

Mitternight gave great thanks to Tony Scudiero, general manager and vice president of the Isle of Capri, for his $10,000 donation to help make a smooth transition from the United Way to Catholic Charities.

Scudiero said it touched his heart when he realized the struggle the Food Pantry was going through.

“We are here to support them and help them in any way we can,” he said.

Scudiero then presented Mitternight with the second and final installment of his donation, a $5,000 check.

Mike Gemmell, chairman of the United Way board, urged all present to have a successful campaign, as it’s the communities dollars that keep all the agencies under the United Way’s umbrella alive.

“We try to move people from dependency to productivity,” he said of United Way’s mission. “But we can’t do it alone.”

Marsha Colson, executive director of United Way, said times are tough which will reflect on the success of the overall campaign.

“We know we’re facing challenges this year, I know that some people may not be able to give as generously as they did last year,” Colson said.

The economic down turn is hurting everyone across the board, she said.

“If we’re feeling it then the people who are in great need are in even greater need this year,” she said.

She asked that everyone give as much as possible, however.