Havre Daily News
United Way of Hill County is $70,200 short of its goal of $110,200 as the annual fundraising drive enters its final weeks.
United Way director Dottie Rice said Tuesday the devastating Gulf Coast hurricanes and other financial needs have taken a toll on donations.
“Businesses in Havre give to a variety of fundraisers every month,” she said. “I think a lot of businesses are maxed out on giving.”
United Way president Christy Keto said it's not unusual for United Way to fall short of its goal, but the past three years have been disappointing. In 2005, donations fell short of a $111,000 goal by $31,000. In 2004, United Way raised $85,000, just $8,800 short of its goal that year, Keto said
“It used to be better,” Keto said. “I think people are just stretched thin with their money. They just really don't have any more.”
She added, “I would hope that people could give just a little bit because it helps the local people. Even though these horrible things happened, the local needs have not decreased at all.”
United Way disburses money donated by Havre businesses and employees to 19 community agencies, including the Havre Food Bank, the Feed My Sheep Community Soup Kitchen, the Salvation Army and the American Red Cross.
“If we don't reach our goal, then they won't get as much money from us,” Keto said. “Some will have to cut services they provide for the community because they won't be able to afford them anymore.”
The District IV Human Resources Develop-ment Council gets money from United Way of Hill County to help operate the Havre Food Bank and purchase food for it.
Food bank manager Don Bleak said Tuesday he was satisfied with the community support during the annual Everybody Loves Firefighters food drive Nov. 14-15 even though less food was collected. About 8,700 pounds of food was donated this year, compared with 10,000 pounds in 2004.
“We're doing pretty well,” Bleak said. “We've had a lot of donations of canned goods.”
Salvation Army volunteers started ringing bells Nov. 25 at Gary & Leo's IGA, Kmart and the Holiday Village Shopping Center.
Trina Crawford took over as social service director and case worker for the Salvation Army at the beginning of September. Crawford said monetary donations have decreased.
“Donations are down. I'm not really sure by how much because I'm new,” she said. “However, things such as clothing and household items being donated to the thrift store are better.”
Crawford said the Salvation Army uses United Way funding primarily to help people who are delinquent in their rent payments.
With the Christmas season approaching, Rice is optimistic that United Way will continue to receive contribution packets from local businesses. She added that it's difficult to determine how much of a shortfall the charitable organization will have until it gets a final count of donations in the middle of December.
“The packages have been slow coming in, which is normal,” Rice said. “Packages haven't come back and we're still collecting.”
Employees can sign up for payroll deductions or make lump-sum donations. Also, some organizations and businesses contribute lump sums.
Those interested in making a donation to United Way of Hill County can call 265-6561.