Editorial: So little can mean so much

Let’s be plain. According to the level of giving to date, the United Way campaign this year may fall short. One likely reason is that those who normally set aside funds for charitable giving may have doled out some of those funds to relief efforts in the aftermath of Tropical Storm Irene. Statewide, more than $1,894,331 million has been collected through the United Ways of Vermont for relief to Irene’s victims, of which $81,000 was raised through the United Way of Addison County. It’s no surprise, then, to see the local campaign tracking short of its normal pace by about $35,000 toward its $750,000 goal.
It’s a concern because more than 20 local social service agencies depend on the annual contributions from the United Way to fill significant gaps in their budget. The Hub teen center in Bristol is one of them, receiving $8,000 last year, without which the organization would be in jeopardy.
The same could be said of any of the 29 local agencies United Way serves, including H.O.P.E., Elderly Services, Addison County Parent/Child Center, Addison County Housing Coalition; Addison County Home Health & Hospice, court diversion, the Boys & Girls Club of Vergennes, Bristol Family Center, Champlain Valley Agency on Aging, Open Door Clinic, the John W. Graham Emergency Shelter, Mary Johnson Children’s Center and others. All services are vital to those who need a helping hand for the moment.
The best hope to meet those needs is for more people to contribute. This year, then, let us join in the effort to broaden the pool; to reach out to those who postponed giving in the past to step up to the plate this year. Much has already been given in this year of extraordinary need, and yet the need is great — and, thankfully, the wherewithal to help our friends and neighbors is even greater.
It’s easy to give. Payroll deduction plans are in place in many businesses and as little as a couple dollars a week makes a big difference — yet is hardly noticed in a weekly or bi-weekly paycheck. Or simply contact the United Way office to find out how smaller, but regular contributions could be made throughout the year.
And in this season of giving, know that such contributions pay dividends in thousands of unseen ways. To give is to “Live United,” and as the United Way’s slogan says, we may “come from different places, and come to different conclusions, but underneath it all, we share a passion for improving the human condition.” If that describes how you feel, join the United Way movement and help them fulfill their mission to “Help create opportunities for a better life for all.”
Angelo S. Lynn

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