United Way moves closer to $1.32M goal

Monday, February 11, 2008

The temperature is rising on Broadway as the United Way donations thermometer inches toward the mid-90s.

The not-for-profit organization's Pay It Forward fundraising campaign has raked in $1,220,500.91 so far. The number falls about $100,000 short of its $1.32 million goal.

"There's a lot of things still coming in," said Holly Lintner, director of development for United Way of Southeast Missouri.

Larger companies like J.C. Penney Co. and Wal-Mart that work with a national program still have to report employee contributions, which Lintner estimated at $38,000. With those nearly guaranteed donations, the United Way has raised more than 95 percent of the money.

Although it hasn't met this year's goal yet, the United Way has already raised more money than ever before. The money funds 30 agencies and 40 programs in the area. The most notable are Success by 6 and the Life initiative, both aimed at helping children succeed at school.

The Success by 6 program just turned seven. Lintner said in Success by 6, volunteers are "really focusing on quality early child programs and kindergarten readiness."

This is the second year for Life initiative.

"That is focusing on the children who are failing at school," Lintner said.

Life already has several programs running, and it has expanded to eight locations in Jackson.

This year's hefty goal was set on a needs basis as opposed to previous years when the number was determined by how much the United Way thought it could raise. The programs reported on what they needed to survive or expand in 2008 and the organization came up with $1.32 million.

The public can help determine how to allocate that money. Starting Wednesday, the United Way will be evaluating the past performance of every program and deciding how much money to give to whom.

The Funding Panels are open to the public. They are separated into four-hour blocks where four programs will report. Each panel seats 15 people.

"It's a great way to get everyone involved in making the decisions," Lintner said.

The panels run from Feb. 13 to 28. Lintner said they still need volunteers and people can call and sign up at anytime.

Lintner stressed that people can also still donate at any time.

"They can do it any way they want," she said. Donate online, call the United Way or "Just send us a check, that's fine."

The United Way of Southeast Missouri has only missed its fundraising goal one time in history, and Lintner doesn't plan on a repeat performance.

"I still have a month to make it happen. I still feel confident," she said.

charris@semissourian.com

335-6611, extension 246

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