“Our community, as you know, is a giving community, whether it’s Relay for Life, Advocates, etc. [The public supports] all kinds of good [causes],” Kittle said. “It’s kind of in our DNA to help people. ... The one thing I’ve known just from all my years here and just kind of being involved in different things is we do have a good community and if they know the cause and the reason, they do come out. And I really believe we won’t have any problem hitting our goals.
“United Way has a very active board. They’ve got some really good folks. ... They do a great job and one of the things that they’ve done recently that I’ve thought was really good, they make sure when they’re dealing with companies that they check the Bartow box,” he said, referring to pledge cards. “The money always goes to a good cause, but by checking that box, you guarantee that that money stays here with the Bartow needs.”
Officially ending Nov. 30, the drive primarily generates 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 16 agencies: 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, Bartow Area Habitat for Humanity, Hickory Log Vocational School, North Bartow Community Services, Bartow Health Access, Girl Scouts Division of Bartow County and Advocates for Children. Combined, the nonprofits serve about 60,000 people each year.
“We decided that maybe having something downtown — where people can stop by and see the excitement, pick up a brochure, learn what we’re about — might encourage them to do a campaign this year or somehow get involved with United Way or at least get involved with some of our nonprofit partner agencies,” Morehouse said. “... What’s so unique about United Way and our donor base is that we get out there and talk to the middle class people that are working in the grocery stores as checkers and in the manufacturing plants. ... Those very people want an opportunity to give too, and it’s not all that common that somebody will go up to somebody that might be making [$10], $15 an hour being a checker or working in a plant and ask them for a large donation because it’s hard for them to write that large, lump sum check.
“So we encourage our agencies to go out and solicit the donor base that can write those big checks while we are able to get out to the people that work in these plants and give them an opportunity to give a small amount like $1 or $2 a week out of their paycheck. What a lot of people don’t understand is when you get a large number of people together, giving a dollar or $2 a week out of their paycheck, it accumulates to a large, lump sum of money.”
As the campaign’s chairman, Kittle will speak on behalf of the United Way to various aspects of the community, especially reaching out to businesses that have not offered payroll deduction campaigns in the past. A resident of Euharlee, he is the vice chair of Bartow County Board of Education and a sales representative for Wesco.
“He was selected because he was recently elected to the school board and United Way really wants to focus on education,” Morehouse said. “The way [our nonprofit partner agencies are] affecting education already is, if a parent can’t afford daycare and they’re able to put them in a Boys & Girls Club after school where they have mentors and activities and time to work on a computer and someone to help them with their homework, they have a 100 percent more chance to graduate then if they’re sitting at home by themselves in the afternoons every day.
“[Fred Kittle’s] role will be to help us make partnerships with people in the community that maybe have not gotten excited about what United Way does. He’ll help us educate the community with letting people know that we focus on education because, if you can get a good education, you can get a good job and then you get health benefits. So it’s education, income and health. So he’s going to play that partner role with us to connect United Way with other people in the community, businesses. ... So he’ll be filling that gap, because we do have a gap between us and those people that we want to get involved. And he’ll help us fill that gap, so that we can build better partnerships.”
For more information about the United Way, call 770-386-1677 or visit www.bartowliveunited.org.