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Published: 8/31/2002

United Way's urgent mission

With summer ending, school starting, and political campaigning beginning in earnest, it might be easy to overlook yet another traditional kick-off to autumn. But it would be a serious mistake to ignore the annual campaign by the United Way of Greater Toledo to raise money essential to the continued operation of so many critical support services in the region.

The United Way of Greater Toledo is an umbrella charitable organization that actually serves three counties: Lucas, Wood, and Ottawa. It helps fund more than 68 agencies and 160 programs that depend mightily on the yearly success of United Way to attract community donations.

The metropolitan area, populated by more than half a million people, has a long history of generous contributions to the United Way. But last year fewer than 10 percent of residents opted to support the campaign. While it is commendable that the average donor gift is increasing, it is troubling that the actual number of donors pledging support to the agency is not.

Fortunately, the United Way will not be easily discouraged, and its army of volunteers will be out in force shortly. The official kickoff of the 2002 campaign will come Thursday, along with the announcement of this year's goal, which will at least match last year's $14.7 million total raised.

Joe Magliochetti, chairman and CEO of Dana Corp., this year's campaign chairman, can assure corporate and community donors that money collected in the campaign goes directly to the agencies and families that need it, not to pay the overhead of the United Way. That's thanks to the organization's substantial endowment, one of the largest in the country, which means United Way doesn't have to dip into donations to cover administrative costs and national dues.

Also, donations are aggressively monitored to make sure contributions are effectively maximized.

Yes, it's a tough economy, but human suffering and need endure, regardless of the economic climate. United Way of Greater Toledo provides a sound vehicle for people to help people. Unlike some shaky Wall Street commodities these days, investing in the continued welfare of your community delivers rewarding dividends.



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