Work is already under way on annual fund-raiser
SIKESTON -- Neither heat nor rain could stop the United Way of Sikeston from gearing up for its annual fund-raising campaign. And while the official kick off isn't until Sept. 20 at Sikeston High School's first home football game of the season, work is already under way.
Glenna Shy, campaign director, began hand delivering contribution packages to local businesses Tuesday morning.
"We had a lot of good exposure last year at the kick off, which was also at the high school," Shy said. "United Way was recognized at the game. It was just outstanding."
During the first two weeks of August, packets are mailed to local individuals and out-of-town contributors. In an effort to receive funding, visits are also made to industries to promote the organization.
United Way's employees and volunteers are asking the public to donate money in order to continue aiding specific agencies in Southeast Missouri. The campaign goal for 2002-2003 is the same as the previous two years, $76,000. Last year the organization raised $88,237.
United Way Chairman Larry Nickell thinks the current stock market plunges might discourage the public to make contributions -- a worry the organization faced last year after the Sept. 11 attacks, he said.
However, there is a difference between the two years, Nickell said. "With 9-11, people all over the United States got out and gave money," Nickell explained. "9-11 brought out a special trait in people, whereas the stock market hits you right in the billfold."
The House of Refuge for Abused Children and Battered Women is one of United Way's new agencies for 2002-2003. According to Raylene Snider, House of Refuge victim's advocacy and volunteer specialist, the grant-funded program could definitely use some extra funding.
"We have some women who take off in the middle of the night," Snider said. "They have no plans or don't know where to go. Sometimes women have to leave so abruptly they leave their belongings behind."
Snider continued: "For instance, if their child has poison ivy and they leave it at home, we need to supply them with medicine. Or if they haven't eaten, or they don't have a toothbrush, we need to provide them with food and supplies.
Sixteen other agencies will benefit from the money raised by United Way over the next couple months. These include: Bootheel Counseling Services, Boy and Girl Scouts, Delta Area Blind, Foster Grandparents Program, Kenny Rogers Children's Center, Mission Missouri, four Nutrition Centers, Sikeston Rescue Mission, Southeast Missouri Network Against Sexual Violence, Scott and Mississippi Transit Systems and the YMCA of Southeast Missouri.
Nickell said United Way is important for many reasons, including the fact it provides some funding for agencies in the area. Money is divided between the 17 agencies based on need.
"United Way's money stays in Southeast Missouri," Nickell said. "And it does a lot of good for both the young and the old."
Both Nickell and Shy believe feeding the elderly is an important priority of United Way. "We've got to feed the elderly," Shy said.
"It's a great thing for the elderly to go down to the (Nutrition) Center, and eat for almost nothing," Nickell added.
Nickell assures the public will get their money's worth if they contribute to the organization. "It's a way of giving at one time and helping fund 17 different agencies," he said. "It's (donating) a part of us -- and the way we work."
For more information about making contributions, call the United Way of Sikeston office at (573) 471-0310.