Riverdale Mill sets example to follow

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, October 1, 2003

News that the employees of International Paper’s Riverdale Mill have exceeded their goal for this year’s Selma-Dallas County United Way campaign is welcome indeed.

The employees contributed $104,396, or 4 percent over the goal they set for themselves. That amount was matched by International Paper at 60 cents on the dollar, for a total contribution of $167,034.

It’s needed. That amount represents 35 percent of the total budget for the local chapter of United Way, according to Executive Director Jeff Cothran.

Many of the agencies that receive United Way funding also depend on state and local governments to help pay the bills. With the state facing a $675 million-plus deficit in the fiscal year ahead, those agencies are anticipating serious budget cuts. They depend on the communities they serve to make up those cuts to maintain the same level of services.

The Riverdale Mill employees have met that challenge. If anyone needed proof that International Paper is a good corporate neighbor, they need look no farther than this year’s United Way drive. With today’s tough business environment, it would have been easy for the company to refuse to participate in United Way at all. Instead, union leaders joined in to raise awareness among IP employees about the work that United Way does and its importance to the community. Then the company went beyond what was required of it to partially match the money contributed by its employees.

Riverdale Mill Manager Ray Thomas recognized the efforts of his employees and personally thanked them. &uot;This is another reason to be very proud of our mill and our folks,&uot; Thomas said.

We agree.

United Way performs a vital function in Selma and Dallas County, helping to fund a variety of agencies that meet a wide range of needs, from the American Red Cross to Cahaba Center for Mental Health. But it only works if the people of our community support it.

The employees of Riverdale Mill, and International Paper, have provided us with a challenging example of stepping up to meet the needs of this community.

Well done.