Charity begins at home

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, December 27, 2005

United Way helps other agencies

By Julian Helms

The Selma Times-Journal

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The American Red Cross, Alagasco, and the Selma Mall sponsored Christmas Lunch for Evacuee Children at the Selma Mall before Christmas.

More than 75 children and their parents were invited, according to the Red Cross, as “a gesture of love towards those affected by the dreadful hurricanes.”

A parent told a Red Cross representative that Selma was unique in reaching out to the children affected by the disaster. The children were treated to pizza, hotdogs, toys and gift certificates.

Jeff Cothran, executive director for the United Way of Selma & Dallas County, which helps fund the American Red Cross, said Tuesday that he feared the United Way was facing “hefty cuts of allocations.”

“We’re $50,000 short of our annual funding goal,” Cothran said.

“Between hurricanes and three-dollar a gallon gasoline, people are not really into giving. Last year we had Hurricane Ivan; this year, we kicked off the campaign and then Katrina hit. Disaster after disaster. What happens is very little charity stays up here for the people here at home.”

“We were the local agent for some of the hurricane needs. We allocated $32,000 to $33,000 to the Katrina Fund. We wrote checks to the Red Cross, and they distributed the funding,” Cothran said.

Although the United Way’s reputation took a national hit after 9/11 because of the choices of New York’s United Way, Cothran noted that locally, “we are the middle man you can trust. We go over budgets with other agencies to help them, and all of our money does stay here locally. Every dime we raise is put back into this community.”

Even a pledge not payable until June 2006 will help the United Way meet its committed allocations for 2006.

“People can even mail a pledge if they don’t want to pay until next year,” Cothran offered. “We’re flexible.”

Any amount of funding or commitment to fund may be mailed to the United Way of Selma & Dallas County at P.O. Box 298, Selma, AL, 36702-0298.