By Tim Leeds/Havre Daily Newsfirstname.lastname@example.org
United Way of Hill County is kicking off its fund drive Tuesday, and reducing its goal for the second year in a row.
United Way president Christy Keto said this year's goal is about $111,000. That's down about $12,000 from last year's goal.
"We're having a harder time fund raising. Everybody's money is just spread too thin," she said.
United Way last raised its goal in 2002, from about $110,000 in 2001 to $126,000.
After missing that goal by nearly $38,000, United Way dropped its goal to about $123,000 in 2003. It also missed that goal, raising less than $90,000 last year.
United Way treasurer Robert Floren said that required the United Way board to decide how much to cut the funding that agencies had requested.
"That's a tough one for us to do because they all need money," Floren said.
United Way of Hill County provides funding for 19 agencies, with all donations divided among the local agencies. Agencies funded include the Salvation Army, the Hill County Council on Aging, Child Care Link, the Havre Food Bank, Golden Triangle Mental Health, the Domestic Abuse Program, and Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts.
Kitty Keepers can be designated as a recipient by the donor, bringing the total to 20 agencies.
United Way is kicking off its 2004 fund drive with a luncheon at 11:30 a.m. Tuesday at the District IV Human Resources Development Council building.
Marvin Gunnarson, board president for the Feed My Sheep Soup Kitchen, said the kitchen couldn't continue to operate as it does if it lost its United Way funding.
"We would either cut back or fold," he said.
Gunnarson said the soup kitchen uses the United Way money to pay its expenses, including the wages of its full-time cook.
Keto said she plans to keep United Way in the forefront of people's minds during this year's fund drive, including putting up displays in stores and in shop windows to remind people of the fund drive.
"It's easy to let it slide by if you only hear about it once," she said.
"We do help so many people and we focus on the elderly and children. And we do make a difference," Keto said.
United Way's money comes from company donations, payroll deductions, and individual donations. Floren said United Way plans to again hold a Monday Night Football fund-raiser at Boxcars, which includes a dinner, raffles and 50-50 drawings.
"Boxcars has been a great supporter of United Way," he said.
He said one reason United Way hasn't met its goal is that corporations are cutting back donations.
"Their budgets are down too, Floren said.
He said if everyone in the county would donate just a bit, that would make up the difference.
"If everybody cut out going to a show or having a couple of lattes, the goal would be met," he said.
He said the luncheon Tuesday is primarily for the United Way board members and representatives of the agencies United Way funds, but anyone interested in volunteering or who wants to find out more about United Way and the fund drive is welcome.
Keto also said everyone is welcome at the luncheon.
"It's just to get everyone excited about United Way and get fired up," Keto said.
For more information, call United Way at 265-6561.