United Way reaches $1 million

United Way of Jackson County credits a generous community for helping the agency reach its million-dollar fundraising goal ahead of schedule this year.

As of Wednesday, the nonprofit had raised $1,005,000, with a bit of money still to be accounted for, said Dee Anne Everson, United Way executive director.

"United Way giving comes from thousands and thousands of donors who live, work and care about their community," Everson said.

The money collected by United Way funds 53 programs run by a multitude of agencies. The agency helps those who struggle with poverty, addiction, domestic violence, disabilities and other hardships, she said.

"We cover everything from prenatal care to bereavement counseling and a whole lot of life that falls in between," Everson said, adding that the programs benefit "one out of two people who live in Jackson County."

Half of United Way's resources are invested in "community change projects," such as the Meth Task Force, Hope Chest and the Child Abuse Network (CAN), she said.

Tim Clayton, a commercial lender at U.S. Bank, served as the chair for this year's fundraising campaign.

Spotlighting the community projects helps the agency "reach out in new and different ways to the ever-changing needs of the community," Clayton said.

"This community has always stepped up in a major way when called to action," he said.

Not a dime of the money raised came from government sources. Only about 18 percent of the $1 million came from business gifts. Twelve percent came from foundations and 70 percent came from individuals either through their workplace or through direct mail, Everson said.

Eighty-one cents out of every local dollar collected by United Way is spent in direct support for services and programs that help people in need in Jackson County, she added.

Everson said raising money in a tough financial climate can be easier than in good times.

"I think it's easier to raise money when times are tough, because it's easier to know someone who needs help," Everson said. "And it's also easier for people to need help themselves. People tend to share. If you are an individual who is working, living or breathing in our community, you know it's hard times."

United Way volunteer Lisa Stauffer knows about those hard times firsthand.

Stauffer, who recently lost her job, said she served as United Way's in-house fundraiser at the company that laid her off. Prior to losing her job, Stauffer donated to United Way via a payroll deduction, and she plans to do the same when she finds new employment, she said.

"I have been involved with United Way for 17 years," Stauffer said. "I like it because it is everyday people helping everybody else who needs help."

Reach Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or sspecht@mailtribune.com.

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