"We were a little nervous because we thought we might see some donor fatigue due to all the donations that came through when the tornadoes hit in April," said Brenda Morehouse, president of the United Way of Bartow County, referring to a radio-thon presented by WBHF radio, The Daily Tribune News and Cartersville UNCUT. "We saw $70,000 come in to us within a two-day period. And we were concerned that people weren't going to have the money [now] and felt like if they donated back then that they might back off on their annual pledge.
"Well, we were wrong and the community, as it always does in Bartow County, really stepped forward. And because of the newspaper, The Daily Tribune, and WBHF and all [the] great [coverage] on everything that we've had, we really got the word out this year about campaigns and got into a couple of companies that we haven't really been able to get into where I was able to speak and really talk to the employees, which really makes a difference. We are so excited and what's really exciting about it is that we know we've hit our goal but it's possible with our grant money -- once we find out [the total] -- that we will exceed it, not by a lot but by a little, maybe enough to start getting back to where we were before the economy hit."
Started in September, the drive bearing the slogan "Dare to Dream, Join the Team, LIVE UNITED" primarily is generating funds through payroll deductions, which enables employees to donate a minimal amount yearlong, with a portion of their paycheck designated to the United Way.
Funds raised through the campaign will be dispersed, based on need, to United Way's agencies, which Morehouse previously said includes AIDS Alliance of Northwest Georgia, Good Neighbor Homeless Shelter, Bartow County 4-H Club, Boys & Girls Clubs of Bartow County, Bartow Civil Air Patrol, American Red Cross, Christian League for Battered Women, New Beginnings Food Outreach, The Salvation Army, Good Shepherd Foundation, Habitat for Humanity, Hickory Log Vocational School, North Bartow Community Services, Bartow Health Access, Advocates for Children, and Big Brothers and Big Sisters.
"[This money] is very important to the community because we have our partnering agencies that depend on our allocations each year and those allocations come from the money that we raise from special events and payroll deductions and just from one-time gifts," said Janet Queen, chairman for the United Way of Bartow County's board of directors. "So the more money that we're able to raise, the more allocated money we're able to give to our partner agencies every year."
This year, Johnette Dawson, publisher of The Daily Tribune News, is serving as the nonprofit's campaign chairman with Matt Santini, WBHF station manager, and Deanna Berry, Cartersville UNCUT executive editor, assisting as co-chairs.
"With the economy being such as it is and times being so hard, it just makes it particularly heartwarming to see that people are still stepping up," Dawson said about the community rallying around the United Way. "They're still recognizing the fact that sure times may be hard at my house and at your house but there are people who are worse off and people are sharing what little they do have with those who have nothing. ... Personally I would just say, 'Thank you to everyone.'
"If they've given $1 or $100, whatever they gave, I know they gave what they could afford and what was in their heart. And on behalf of the whole board and everybody involved in United Way, I just say, 'Thank you.'"
For more information about the United Way, call 770-386-1677 or visit www.bartowliveunited.org.