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United Way sees more need than ever
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For the first time in 27 years Doris Strickland's work is getting to her.

She's no stranger to people in need, having helped many through her fundraising efforts with the Covington-Newton County United Way, but this year the need is just too great.

"People want food now - just food, the basics. The United Way can't help them all. It's sad. People are being evicted from their homes; the homeless shelters are full. This is the first year the job has bothered me," Strickland said. "There's so much we can't do for people. It's hard. Some days I just have to leave the office for a bit."

While the community's need increases, the United Way's resources continue to decline.

The United Way reached its pinnacle in 2008 receiving $485,000 in donations from local companies and individuals, but after lower-than-expected fundraising efforts the past two years, the organization has reduced its expectations for 2012.

The United Way is kicking off its fundraising campaign Sept. 1 and hopes to get at least $350,000 in pledges by mid-December.

After pledges are made the money is generally deducted out of participating employees' paychecks and then given monthly to the 21 nonprofits the United Way supports.
Though the stated goal is lower, Strickland hopes local industries and companies will respond to the need. She's taking extra steps to reach out to local attorneys and banks.

In general, the majority of the United Way's funds come from major industries and corporations, grocery stores and public employees. The Newton County School System is the county's largest employer, but employee cuts there have led to few donations. However, she noted that Snapping Shoals and Newton Medical Center employees raised their pledges this past year.

Strickland hopes that small businesses will be more active in their giving this year.

The benefit of giving to the United Way as opposed to giving to nonprofits directly is that the United Way vets the nonprofits it supports and keeps a record of how each group spends its money.

The United Way is not having a kick-off luncheon this year because it wants to devote the money it would have spent on the luncheon to its nonprofits instead, Strickland said.

United Way supports 21 non-profits, including the Community Food Pantry, Habitat for Humanity and Newton County Special Olympics.

Small business and individuals can donate to the United Way by mailing checks to P.O. Box 1344, Covington, Ga. 30014. For more information about the United Way call Strickland at (770) 786-7638.