United Way kicks off campaign

COVINGTON - The Covington-Newton County United Way is kicking off its 2009-2010 fundraising campaign this week, with a goal of raising $475,000.

"We kept the goal the same as last year because of the economy," said United Way Director Doris Strickland.

Last year, United Way exceeded its goal, raising about $484,000.

"So many people have cut back in industries and the schools are cutting back. I really don't know what to expect," this year, Strickland said.

Still, just setting a goal that high with a reasonable expectation that it can be met shows the generosity of Newton County citizens, she said, noting that most counties of comparable size raise roughly $250,000.

"During hard times it seems like we do real good. I guess people know there's a real need and if they have an extra dollar, they're willing to share it with their neighbors," she said. "But I've been here 26 years and I've never seen the times as bad as they are right now. We're swamped by people coming in. There's not enough money to do it all."

The United Way distributes the money raised to local nonprofit agencies.

Most contributions are made through employee payroll deductions by local industries and businesses. Civic organizations and individuals may also contribute, however. The campaign will run through November.

Individuals who would like to contribute should make checks payable to United Way. Checks can be mailed to P.O. Box 1344, Covington, GA 30015.

United Way will officially kick off its campaign Friday with an 11:45 a.m. luncheon at Turner Lake Complex. Brig. Gen. Les Carroll of Covington will be the keynote speaker.

Though invitations have been sent out, anyone in the community is welcome to attend, but should notify Strickland as soon as possible, she said.

To reserve a spot at the luncheon or to learn more about United Way, call 770-786-7638.

Crystal Tatum can be reached at crystal.tatum@newtoncitizen.com.