United Way sees continued giving despite loss of jobs

TUPELO – The United Way of Northeast Mississippi appears poised to meet its $2.1 million goal.
“We think we’ll be making it within the next few days,” Melinda Tidwell, executive director of the organization, said Wednesday. “We are getting really close.”
On Friday, she said United Way had “big news” and would have a “very special celebration” on Thursday.
Tidwell said if United Way goes over its goal, the extra money will be divided among the 61 health and human services agencies it supports throughout Lee, Chickasaw, Itawamba, Pontotoc, Prentiss, Tishomingo and Union counties.
“We get in requests for two to three times more money than we have every year,” she said.
Much of the United Way’s money is raised through payroll deductions from employees.
Tidwell said United Way loses an average of 6 percent of its pledges each year. She attributed much of the loss to employees leaving their jobs.
The good news, she said, is “a lot of times you have people leave, but you have a new person come in to replace them.”
But the layoffs throughout the region have slimmed down this year’s campaigns at the companies, Tidwell said.
“The campaigns have been down simply because there have been fewer employees to give,” she said. “For the most part, the people who are still out there and are still working are willing to give.”
She said the giving attitude is a good sign because the agencies United Way supports are in “such desperate need” because more people are relying on charity to help them get through the down economy.
The agencies include several food pantries, the Good Samaritan Free Clinic, the Salvation Army, the Girl Scouts, Regional Rehabilitation Center, the American Red Cross, the Boy Scouts, the Boys & Girls Club, Habitat for Humanity and Meals on Wheels.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.

Carlie Kollath/NEMS Daily Journal