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Riverdale smashes United Way goal

Employees of Selma’s International Paper Riverdale Mill set their sights on a goal of $100,000 to donate to the United Way of Selma and Dallas County. By last week, that goal had been shattered.

Employee contributions totaled $100,208.26, and with a 60 cent on the dollar match from the company, the official tally came to more than $160,333.

“I am proud of our employees for supporting United Way and the many worthy organizations funded by it,” said mill manager Russell Harris. “This is just one way our employees partner with our company to benefit the local community.”

Contributions from the Riverdale Mill, United Way executive director Jeff Cothran said, account for more than 40 percent of the annual funds collected.

“International Paper has been our biggest contributor for the past 18 years I’ve been here,” he said. “They have been a great supporter in this community, not only in the jobs they give, but in their good stewardship of the land. And then, to have them turn around and the men and women out there to contribute money is great.”

Right now, Cothran said, the United Way has collected $210,000. Last year, they collected $310,000.

“We are as pleased as we can be, we just hope folks will keep giving,” he said. “The need is huge.”

Demands for the services provided and supported by the United Way have continued to grow, Cothran said. The Bosco Nutrition Center is averaging 500 meals a day and because of the recent burglaries, the food bank needs additional help as well.

“These agencies that we support and our direct services program are working to support and take care of the needs of the people in our community that have been devastated by the economy over the past three or four years,” he said. “With all of our agencies, we have had several people come through clinics because they lost their health benefits when they lost their job. We’ve seen a lot more people come to see us and these agencies we support are just desperate for people to help.”

Cothran praised those who have stepped up to provide additional aid this year.

“We’ve got a great, caring community here and we just need everybody who is blessed to work and have a job to give a little bit to those who are hurting right now if they can,” he said.
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