United Way Woes

It could be a tough holiday for the United Way of Valdosta and Lowndes County because the agency is far short of reaching its fundraising goal.

Officials with the United Way say they can't blame this year's funding shortage on any one factor, but they remain hopeful they can finish the fundraising campaign strong enough to keep agencies running well.

The United Way of Valdosta-Lowndes County had lofty goals for 2003, trying to raise record $1.4 million. As of Tuesday, the agency had only raised $725,000.

"I am a little surprised we have fallen behind to some degree. Once again we can't put our finger on why or the reasons why. We are optimistic however, that we will finish the year strong and get close to the million dollar mark, which is not our goal, but I think if we get to the million dollar mark we will have been successful," said Kevin Conrad, United Way campaign chairman.

That's because the United Way will still be able to fund 26 different agencies. Not at the level originally planned, but still able to make a difference. Directors of United Way sponsored agencies, like the Boys and Girls Club, say it’s important for the community to step up now and help the United Way reach the million dollar mark.

"It’s tremendously important from a community standpoint, that everyone pitch in and try and do a little bit to help them reach their goal, because not only will the kids suffer if the goals are not met, but there are a lot of other agencies as well," Robert Soper, CPO, Boys And Girls Club of Valdosta.

That's why the United Way of Valdosta-Lowndes County is actively seeking donations for the rest of the year, so thousands of people can continue to rely on the 26 south Georgia agencies that are funded by the United Way.

People in south Georgia can either visit the United Way's office in Valdosta to make their donation, or simply call 242-2208.

Mary Christopher of the United Way of the Big Bend says things in the Big Bend are looking good. The agency has collected 65 percent of its $6 million goal, and is extending collection time to help reach its goal.