United Way pushes fundraiser goal higher in tough times

By Danielle Thomas - bio | email

GAUTIER, MS (WLOX) - United Way officials say tough economic times was the motivation to push its annual fundraising goals even higher. On Thursday, United Way for Jackson and George Counties invited the community to get to know the dozens of agencies it helps and see how much has been raised so far.

Rachel Nilsen is the director of PROMISS or Pregnancy Resource of Mississippi. It's a group that helps women dealing with unplanned pregnancies. She says so far this year the center which is located in Gautier has distributed more than 15,000 baby items.

"As we get it, it goes," said Nilsen. "So we barely, rarely can keep it on the shelf."

United Way for Jackson and George Counties showcased PROMISS and its 21 other non profit partners so the community can see how its United Way donations make a difference.

"We would not be in existence," said Claire Albright of the Jackson County Literacy Council. "They give us that much support especially in the economy today. We would have to depend on individual donations and grants, and it's just not there enough to fully support us."

United Way officials say so far they have raised nearly $1 million of its $2.5 million goal. That's an increase from $2.3 million.

Ellen Cole is the chairman of United Way of Jackson and George County board.

"We know that it's going to be a tough holiday season," Cole said. "We're thinking there will probably be more demand than there has been in the past. That's why we raised our goal and we need all these dollars."

Nilsen says PROMISS gets 25 percent of its budget from United Way along with grants. One of those grants paid for a new responsible fatherhood program.

"We minister and we help people through the education," Nilsen said. "We provide so they can better improve their lives. So the information we get from United Way and the resources as well as the financial support allows us to fulfill our mission to these families."

United Way for Jackson and George Counties is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year. Officials say they are pleased with how fundraising is going so far but are depending on the community to reach the ultimate goal.

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