With just under $700,000 in pledges, this year's United Way campaign is 25 percent short of its goal of $800,000. If pledges continue to lag, United Way officials say this could lead to budget cuts for the 16 agencies they serve.
"They'll be less money for the Boy Scouts, the Girl Scouts, the Red Cross, the Boys and Girls Club, and Hope Village for Children," said campaign chairperson Betty Lou Jones.
As mentioned, one of the agencies that could be affected is the local Red Cross. As part of the ongoing recovery effort for the recent tornado continues the Red Cross is expected to spend at least $100,000 in Newton and Lauderdale Counties.
"But this can happen at anytime. So, not only do we need money for this operation but also for our chapter to be able to continue functioning," said Red Cross director Cheri Barry.
"If we just waited for the catastrophes, then the agencies in place to help would not be in place," said United Way director Louis Sutton Jr.
United Way officials say if all workers in Lauderdale County would donate one hour's pay per month that would equal almost two million dollars a year for the agency. Given this and the current state of the economy, they say residents can't afford not to give.
Although the final deadline for the campaign is Jan. 30, United Way officials say all donations made by Dec. 31 are tax deductible for this year. For more information on donating call (601) 693-2732.
"The United Way is all of us and if we would all just give a little, we could meet the needs of the community," said Jones.