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Halfway there

PRINCETON — The Bureau County United Way has reached 55 percent of its $120,000 goal for its 41st annual campaign.

On Friday, executive director Michelle Lymberopoulos said some United Way chapters end their campaigns at the end of the year, which would be on Monday, but the Bureau County chapter continues its campaign through its spring fundraiser, which is set this year for March 23.

The local United Way chapter has operated with a $120,000 campaign goal for the past several years with 88 percent of its goal raised last year. The 55 percent pledged so far this year is a bit behind last year’s campaign at this time of the year, Lymberopoulos said.

Looking at the current 55 percent, Lymberopoulos said contributions are down in every sector of the campaign, with several possible factors causing that decrease.

For one thing, the economy is still struggling, Lymberopoulos said. Though some people and businesses are still contributing to the United Way, they are contributing less than in previous years. Unemployment is still a concern. Also, an election year can be another factor because people are unsure of the outcome and what that outcome will mean to the economy. With talk of falling off the “fiscal cliff” for the country, people are unsure of what the new year will bring for them with increased taxes, Lymberopoulos said.

The local United Way chapter helps fund 15 local not-for-profit health and human service organizations and agencies. Many of those agencies, like the area food pantries, are seeing an increased number of people using their services. Some of those agencies and organizations are also receiving less state and federal funding and need local dollars more than ever before, she said.

In addition to its support of local agencies, the United Way also has its other community programs and outreaches, like its annual Christmas toy drive. This year, the United Way provided toys for 475 Bureau County children, compared to 431 children last year. The needs of area families continue to grow, she said.

The local United Way chapter also serves a lot of people through its referral program which helps families and individuals find the right agency or organization to help meet their specific need, Lymberopoulos said. Some of those needs might include assistance with rent and heating costs, emergency housing situations, and gas assistance so people can keep their medical appointments.

Concerning the money raised for the local United Way chapter, Lymberopoulos said 99 percent of money raised locally is used locally with only 1 percent going to the national headquarters.

Looking ahead to the continued efforts to reach its $120,000 campaign goal, Lymberopoulos said anyone who would like to contribute their time, talents or resources to the United Way can do so by calling her office at 815-875-0821 or mailing the office at P.O. Box 308, Princeton, Illinois 61356.

Comment on this story at www.bcrnews.com.

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