With so many worthy causes to choose from, people interested in helping the less fortunate often are torn between several different organizations when it comes to making a charitable contribution. That's where the United Way comes in.
Essentially serving as an umbrella organization for more than 25 local nonprofit organizations, the United Way is the largest and most far-reaching of any charity on the Kenai Peninsula. And because its reach is so broad, the director of the United Way's 2004-05 fund-raising campaign said a donation to the organization is essentially a way to help out the entire community.
"It's really an important program for the entire community," David Gilbreath, this year's fund-raising chair, told the Kenai Chamber of Commerce on Sept. 15.
Gilbreath's remarks came during a kick-off speech for the annual fund-raising campaign, which last year generated more than $550,000. This year's goal is even more ambitious -- $600,000. However, Gilbreath said he's confident the people of the peninsula will come through.
"This community is a generous community," he said.
Gilbreath said donations to the United Way can end up funding a number of different programs whose missions range from youth sports activities to feeding for the hungry.
"We have families out there who are having to choose between paying hospital bills and buying food," Gilbreath said.
And since the United Way is the major funding agency for many of these organizations, he said a donation can mean the difference between having a viable support program and letting people in need fall through the cracks.
"The United Way, for many of them, is their lifeblood," he said.
When local charities and other nonprofits are able to help those in need, he said it can make a world of difference.
"There are people in our community who only knew despair a few weeks or few days ago that now know hope," Gilbreath said.
Between now and April, the United Way will encourage business leaders and individuals within the community to donate as much as they can to the cause.
He said one of his goals as this year's campaign chair is to get as many people aware of the program as possible.
"We've got to do it one donor at a time, one gift at a time," Gilbreath said.
With the continued support of the community as a whole, he said he's confident this year's campaign will be even more successful than last year's.
"I hope you will help me help you make it successful," he said.
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