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United Way kicks off campaign

COVINGTON -- Covington-Newton County United Way has launched a less ambitious fundraising campaign this year.

Typically the campaign kickoff is marked by a luncheon for regular donors, but this year, that event won't happen.

"We really aren't having the regular kick off that we usually have because of the economic times. We felt like that money does not need to be spent in these trying times when we can barely meet our obligations now," Director Doris Strickland said.The campaign officially kicked off Sept. 1 and will run through mid-November. This year's goal is $350,000. In recent years, it's been as high as $475,000, but Strickland said that's just not a feasible goal at this time.

Most contributions to United Way are made through employee payroll deductions by local industries and businesses. But with so many local employers laying off or cutting salaries, including the Newton County School System, United Way's largest contributor, the organization can't count on those donations anymore, Strickland said.

In her 27 years as director, "It's the first time we've never been able to really help everybody that's in need," she said, noting that there have been tough times but "nothing to compare to these."

The fundraiser benefits more than 20 local non-profits, such as the Salvation Army, Special Olympics, the Miracle League, YMCA and the Community Food Pantry.

Despite the discouraging projections for this year's campaign, Strickland hasn't lost hope.

"I feel like God will provide. I feel like something will happen to where we will be able to support our agencies to where they will be able to continue to thrive in Newton County because we've got some good agencies here and I don't want to see them not be able to do what they do best because they are such vital part of the community," she said.

Contributions can be mailed to P.O. Box 1344, Covington, GA 30015, with checks made payable to United Way. For more information, call 770-786-7638.