United Way ushers in annual money drive

Published 12:30 am Saturday, September 4, 2010

Tie-dye, peace signs and a whole lot of love marked the official start of the United Way of West Central Mississippi’s 2010 fundraising campaign.

“I hope this excitement goes through” to the end, said executive director Barbara Tolliver, clad in a tie-dyed T-shirt and bell-bottom jeans during Friday’s kickoff program at the Southern Cultural Heritage Center. “We know that it’s going to be a great year.”

This year’s goal is to raise $1,415,000. Last year’s was $1,400,000, with at total of $1,423,977 raised. Funds were used to help 20 member agencies that provided services to about 17,000 people.

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While the United Way depends on the benevolence of the community, Tolliver said, campaign organizers also understand the lagging economy affects donations.

“We are still mindful of the fact that people have lost a lot due to the economy,” she said, “and we don’t want to overwhelm anybody.”

Friday was the campaign’s official kickoff, but efforts to meet this year’s goal have been underway since July 7. Pacesetters — comprised of 10 businesses, the Vicksburg Warren School District, Vicksburg Catholic School and Hinds Community College — collected $278,360, down from last year’s figure, $509,883.

“I hope (the Pacesetters’) momentum will carry us through this year,” said Robyn Lea, this year’s campaign chairman.

Warren-Yazoo Mental Health is one of the United Way’s 20 member agencies. Since 2006, its Some Place Special program for the elderly has received $22,000 annually, said program director Elizabeth Naya.