The Finney County United Way set a goal of $570,000 for this year’s campaign and already has exceeded that goal, raising $584,602.40 for local social service agencies.
United Way campaign organizers believe there is a possibility more money will be raised before the year is out. Donations to the charity are tax deductible.
United Way Executive Director Susan Escareno said the contribution from Tyson Fresh Meats raised 41 percent of this year’s goal. Given the number of employees there, that contribution usually comes in later than others.
“This is very close to their giving in the past years,” Escareno said.
The agency’s goal the past five years has been between $530,000 and $565,000, and there has been only one year where the goal wasn’t reached — a testimony to the generosity of the Finney County community, Escareno said.
This year, 24 nonprofit agencies were granted United Way funding for 2015. In addition to satisfying certain conditions, agencies also must help with the fundraising campaign.
“To receive funding, our partner agencies are required to give their time during the campaign to assist with presentations and signing employees up at Tyson,” she said. “They very willingly do so, and we couldn’t complete our campaign without them.”
Escareno said the United Way keeps its overhead low, so the funds can go to the partner agencies.
“We have one full-time staff person and one part-time staff person, otherwise everything else is accomplished by our board of directors and volunteers,” she said.
Overall, Escareno said, the United Way message is a positive one.
“I know one misconception by some is that our office is where they come for assistance with rent, utilities, food, and the like,” she said. “We don’t have the direct funding for those needs, but we can direct them to the agencies that we provide funding to who have those services. We encourage people to call or come by our office, so we head them in the right direction for assistance.”
It’s important, Escareno said, that younger people learn of and understand the mission of the United Way.
“We have some serious work to do in working with the millennials and even younger residents of Finney County,” she said. “Many of them are not aware of the United Way and our purpose.”
She has been meeting with groups, especially at the high school, getting them involved with United Way’s Community Impact Projects, such as Stuff the Bus and Trick or Treat So Others Can Eat food drive.
“The Student Government Association at GCCC and the Finney County Young Professionals have also gotten involved,” Escareno said. “I would like to get these age groups more involved so they become more aware of our mission.”