Annual United Way campaign coming to close

Published 10:11pm Saturday, December 8, 2012

Jeff Cothran, executive director for the United Way of Selma and Dallas County, has a special way to explain how United Way operates: The old song “Brand New Key.”

“I’ve got a brand new pair of roller skates and you got a brand new key. I think that we should get together and try them out, you see,” the 1970’s tune sings.

And Cothran explains to different local businesses that those lyrics hold the key to the essence of United Way of Selma and Dallas County.

“We have all of these resources and people with different abilities and talents and we want to just put those together and use them to change for the good,” Cothran said.

December is the last month for the annual United Way campaign. Those who have pledged in the last several months will be funding organizations locally such as SABRA Sanctuary, Bosco Nutrition Center, Selma A.I.R., YMCA Selma and the Selma Area Food Bank.

“We campaign year round but we really get fired up in mid-August,” Cothran said. “Our United Way is different than other charitable organizations in that we primarily focus on workplace campaigns.”

Some 80 percent of the local United Way funds actually come from corporations and employers in Selma and Dallas County he said. Many of those business and employees partner with United Way and allow payroll deductions throughout the year. International Paper is the largest contributor in the campaign.

“We are covering almost all of the main local charities, so it makes sense to allow United Way to be the chief conduit for payroll deductions,” Cothran said.

Come Dec. 31 Cothran and his allocation committee for the United Way will count up the funds raised and allocate those funds out to the 15 organizations in the area.

As for the contributions in the last several years of the recession, he said he is thankful for the giving and generous people in the area. But the economic downturn “has been just awful,” he explained.

“But I think a lot of people lose hope,” Cothran said. “We have organizations and have people trying to help others as best they can. The chief thing we are blessed with is a very generous community.”

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