United Way jump-starts 2013 campaign

Campaign Chairman Joe Estess talks to the attendees about the upcoming 2013 campaign video. (Adam Robison)

Campaign Chairman Joe Estess talks to the attendees about the upcoming 2013 campaign video. (Adam Robison)

By Dennis Seid
Daily Journal

TUPELO – Two weeks after a rather low-key launch of its 2013 campaign, United Way of Northeast Mississippi announced it had raised nearly $184,000.

The agency officially kicked off this year’s fundraising campaign two weeks ago at the first of its six Back to School Resource Fairs, in which some 3,400 backpacks were distributed.

On Friday, it revealed the video it will show to invite area businesses and individuals to contribute to its record $2.4 million goal.

Several of the 69 agencies the United Way supports saw the video, “Working Together,” which included local artists and businesses.

It was made by Chuck McIntosh of McIntosh Creative Services and Allen Pegues’ Premium Productions.

The song, “Take My Hand,” was written and performed by 15-year-old Eden Richardson, the daughter of United Way of Northeast Mississippi marketing director Michelle Richardson.

All the local touches emphasizes the local impact the United Way has, officials said.

“We work with so many agencies with the money we raise in our communities,” said Robbie Parman, the campaign director. “Ninety-nine percent of the dollars we pull in are spent locally. We get 75 percent of what we have from payroll deductions.”

Joe Estess, the campaign chairman, is the owner of Magnolia Business Center, which is comprised of several divisions. He said his employee participation rate has been 100 percent since it began raising money for the United Way three years ago.

“I saw how nearly everybody had family members or friends who had been served by a United Way agency,” he said. “I have no doubt we’ll have 100 percent participation again.”

Patty Tucker, executive director of the Northeast Mississippi Red Cross, said the United Way is “very important” to her agency, which serves 16 counties.

“We depend greatly on the United Way,” she said.

The Boys & Girls Club of North Mississippi also has a large percentage of its budget coming from the United Way.

“On average we serve about 2,000 children in our region,” said Evie Boyd, the club’s marketing director. “Without that support, we wouldn’t be able to provide them with some of our services.”

The United Way will be making scheduled presentations to area businesses, but others that might want to participate can contact the agency at (662) 841-9133.

dennis.seid@journalinc.com