We understand that the recent economic slump has been hard on everyone. Nonetheless, we are disappointed that this year's campaign by the United Way of York County fell short of its goal.
Local United Way officials set a $2.1 million community fund-raising goal last August but came up with only $1.8 million at last month's campaign finale. That means some of the agencies counting on the United Way for money will have to try to do more with less this year.
Judging from recent experience, the goal certainly was not an unreasonable one. In 2005, the first full year of the unified countywide campaign, volunteers met the $1.85 million goal.
That was at a time when several local large industrial employers had either recently shut down or downsized. The campaign also began just a few months after Hurricane Katrina struck and a tsunami in Southeast Asia killed thousands. Americans had opened their pocketbooks to help survivors of those terrible storms, and there was some question as to whether they would donate to the United Way, too.
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Last year, organizers set the goal at $2.1 million and raised $2.4 million. This year, despite the downturn in the economy, organizers had hoped donors would match the $2.1 million goal again.
But a variety of factors apparently conspired against that. Kimberly Keel, president of the local United Way, said that the education and large-industry sectors saw the largest decrease in giving. And the transition from a textile-based economy to a manufacturing and technology economy continues to take a toll.
The larger donors -- individuals and families who gave $600 or more -- made up almost half of the total pledged. And we salute those who dug deep to give this year.
It is unfortunate, however, that others could not make up the difference. After all, in economic hard times, the needs of United Way's 35 member agencies increase, too.
As always, a donation to the United Way is one of the best ways to ensure that your charitable dollar is well spent. United Way officials carefully screen agencies, review their programs and demand scrupulous accountability for every penny spent.
Whether we realize it or not, all of us know someone who has benefited directly or indirectly from a United Way agency. Programs are geared to the special needs of children and seniors, to the disabled and the addicted, those who can't make it on their own.
We hope members of the community will seek ways to help the United Way of York County to get closer to its goal. And we hope when the United Way comes calling again in the fall, that the community will be ready to give.