Fort Mill Times

United Ways set modest goals

Local United Way organizations have kicked off their fall campaigns and are asking businesses and residents to donate despite hard economic times.

The United Way of Lancaster County and the United Way of York County both have high hopes for meeting their financial goals and continue supporting a variety of agencies that serve residents.

The United Way of Lancaster County set a goal of $425,000 for this year - just $25,000 more than last year's goal. Last year, the group exceeded its goal by $50,000, according to Director Denise Keating.

"The board has considered the economy and thought that was a real and attainable goal this year," Keating said. "We're being sensitive to the economy and realistic and setting a goal that is reasonable and attainable."

The United Way of Lancaster County serves 21 agencies in Lancaster County, including the Council on Aging, which offers support and programs to senior citizens. The Indian Land Recreation Center is one of the sites used by the Council on Aging. It provides programs for senior citizens from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the recreation center.

The United Way of York County serves 37 agencies, including the Boys and Girls Club of York County and the Fort Mill Care Center. Its goal this year is $1.9 million. Last year, the York County organization raised just $1.8 million of its $2.1 million goal, which led to a 20 percent cut in its budget.

Both local agencies hope that backlash from controversy over compensation for former United Way of Carolinas Director Gloria Pace King won't affect their campaigns. King's salary and benefits were not funded by donations raised in York and Lancaster counties.

"We have worked really hard to explain that each United Way across the United States is individually operated," said Beth Covington, a spokeswoman for York County United Way.

Fundraising for the United Way of Lancaster County was hindered in years past by difficulties with the ZIP code in Indian Land. Marketing materials from the United Way of York County were inadvertently sent to Indian Land residents, who live in Lancaster County.

Now that Indian Land residents have a ZIP code that is separate from York County, the United Way of Lancaster County hopes it will be more clear to Panhandle residents where they should send their donations.

"The ZIP code has solidified that community and made attempts to contact people in Indian Land easier and clearer," Keating said.

However, the agency faces difficulties in areas such as Indian Land that are "border communities." Many Indian Land residents work outside of Lancaster County, and Keating hopes to remind them of one of the organization's marketing slogans: "If you live here, give here."

United Way donations should be given to the county where you reside and would seek services if needed, Keating said. She stresses that financial donations are important, but there are other ways to donate.

"There's plenty of ways to contribute to your community," Keating said.

"I think everyone can make a difference somehow. It's not just about the financial contribution; It's about being an active part of your community. It takes a community-wide effort to move the bar in areas it needs to be moved."

The Herald contributed to this story.