By BRIAN HAWKINS
The United Way of North Central Mississippi is extending its 2011 fundraising campaign through the end of February.
As of Thursday, the campaign has raised $191,467 toward its $350,000 goal, putting the fundraising level at 55 percent.
The campaign saw a noticeable upswing in pledges since mid-December, and still more are expected, said Nikki Rives, United Way executive director, on Thursday.
Though United Way officials normally like to end fundraising after three to four months, past campaigns have extended into February, Rives said.
“In the past, money has come in through February. We still have a few companies who have not given us their totals yet,” said Rives. “Many of our industries are still conducting campaigns.”
As the campaign continues, United Way officials are also looking toward allocations for each of the 18 charitable agencies the organization serves. The United Way Budget and Allocations Committee will begin meeting over the next several days to interview agency representatives and make decisions about their allocations.
“These volunteers meet annually to tour each agency and review budgets, services and requests for funding to determine how dollars can make the greatest impact,” she said.
Established in 1974 and serving Oktibbeha, Winston, Choctaw and Webster counties, the local United Way organization raises money to support 18 charitable agencies in Oktibbeha County and the greater Golden Triangle region.
In 2009, United Way dollars helped these agencies serve 3,176 people in health training, education, treatment and assistance; 2,176 people in meeting income-based needs such as food and emergency assistance; and 2,721 people through various education programs offered by United Way agencies, according to statistics compiled by the United Way staff.
Agencies receiving local United Way funding include:
• American Red Cross.
• Area Agency on Aging/ Fellowship Foods/Homemaker Service.
• Boy Scouts of America.
• Boys and Girls Club of Oktibbeha County.
• Brickfire Project.
• CONTACT Helpline.
• The Father’s Child Ministries.
• 4-H Clubs.
• Girl Scouts of Northeast Mississippi.
• Habitat for Humanity.
• Helping Hands Ministries of Oktibbeha County.
• North Mississippi Kidney Foundation.
• Oktibbeha County Humane Society.
• Prairie Opportunity Inc.
• Recovery House Inc.
• Salvation Army.
• Safe Haven/The Rape Crisis Center.
• Sally Kate Winters Family Services.
The vast majority of money raised is used to benefit the United Way agencies , Rives said.
“Ninety-nine cents out of every dollar remains in our community. Less than 1 percent of the funds raised in our four-county area goes to the United Way of America,” Rives said.
Multiple ways to give
Members of the public have multiple choices in deciding to give to the United Way campaign, including:
• Mobile giving — Using one’s cellular phone, a donor can send the text message “NCMISS” to UNITED (864833). This will add a $5 charge to a person’s cellular phone bill that will be donated directly to the United Way.
A donor can make no more than one text message donation per day.
• Payroll deduction — If one’s employer has the capability of doing this option, the donor may elect to have a certain amount of money from each paycheck be donated to the United Way for a certain number of pay periods.
• Donation by cash or check — A donor may make a one-time cash or check donation.
• Credit card — A donor can choose to make a one-time or monthly donation via a specific credit card.
• Pacesetters — Individuals may also want to contribute through a Pacesetter gift.
Pacesetters are donors or groups contributing $500 or more during a campaign, with multiple identified levels, including community donor ($500 to $749), community friend ($750 to $1,499) and community hero ($1,500 and above).
For more information about making contributions to United Way, call 323-3830 or stop by the offices at 1016G Louisville St.