Hurricane Katrina struck within days of the United Way's 2005 campaign kickoff. In the more than four months since Katrina, United Way officials say Mississippians have been very generous, but giving is down. As a result, the agency is roughly at 75 percent of its $800,000 goal.
"It's kind of hard to go and ask people for money and to contribute to the campaign when they have no power, no electricity," said The United Way's Janie Brown. "And so many people have given to, for instance, The Red Cross and other agencies because of the hurricane."
WTOK-TV and Fox Meridian are teaming up with The United Way to host a fundraiser town meeting Thursday at 9:00 p.m. live on Fox Meridian, Comcast Cable channel 10 and 11.2 DT. Watch to see how you can help.
United Way's executive director, Thad Quarles, says the town meeting is another chance for east Mississippi residents to help their neighbors.
"The first step that you make is to reach out and help your neighbor," Quarles said. "And that's what United Way is about, helping your neighbor. Contributions stay here in our community and they benefit our community."
"Our United Way is our United Way. It serves this community. Ninety-nine cents of every dollar stays in this community," Brown said.
Brown said the generosity of the community is vital here at home. Average expenses for the United Way's 14 partner agencies have increased 33 percent as a direct result of the hurricane. She says she's hoping Thursday's fundraiser will inspire every member of the community to help solve that need.
"Regardless of their financial status, you know, where they live, who they are, every person in this community is affected by one of these agencies," said Brown. "They may not go to that agency themselves, but they know somebody."