• 52°

United Way campaign underway

Jeff Cothran, middle, the executive director of the United Way’s local chapter, stands among International Paper employees outside of their company building Thursday.  IP donated more than $150,000 to the nonprofit organization’s annual fall campaign. --Sarah Robinson

Jeff Cothran, middle, the executive director of the United Way’s local chapter, stands among International Paper employees outside of their company building Thursday. IP donated more than $150,000 to the nonprofit organization’s annual fall campaign. –Sarah Robinson

Jeff Cothran, executive director of the United Way, was all smiles Thursday as he marked the agency’s fundraising thermometer to indicate a $150,000 donation from International Paper Co.

The donation was a huge start to the United Way’s annual fall campaign designed to help the local chapter’s mission to improve education, health and income in the Dallas County area through 15 partner agencies.

“The people out here at IP give back every day, and their partnership with United Way is vital,” Cothran said. “We could not do it without them.”

The United Way uses its financial resources to help fund American Red Cross, YMCA, Salvation Army, the Bosco Nutrition Center and more local charities.

With the United Way targeting so many problem areas in the county, it made IP’s decision to contribute to the group once more an easy one, according Laura Gipson-Clark, the company’s communication manager.

“As Dallas County’s largest employer, giving back to the community is near and dear to the hearts of our employees,” Gipson-Clark said.

“We feel a tremendous responsibility to provide for the community.”

United Way relies on the annual fall campaign to bring in a majority of contributions.

“We have this little short window where we need everybody in the community and all the businesses to contribute, so we can provide the most support we can to all these agencies,” Cothran said.

The United Way doesn’t have a certain goal set for the campaign, but hopes to surpass the $340,000 donated last year, he said.

“We get caught up in our daily lives and don’t realize that there are problems and issues,” Cothran said. “Thanks to International Paper and all the people out here, we’re able to make a little bit of a dent.”

Cothran has high hopes IP’s spirit of giving back to the community will spread across the county and inspire more donations to the United Way.

“This was a great opportunity for IP to again show their leadership,” Cothran said. “Hopefully the rest of Dallas County jumps on board, and I can use up all the red ink in my magic marker to cover up the thermometer.”

To donate, call United Way at 874-8383 or mail a pledge to P.O. Box 298, Selma, AL.