More than two months into the Jackson County United Way 2020-21 campaign, donations are coming in slower than in the past due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
But the need for support is even greater because of the virus’ impact on the community, campaign officials said.
Although a goal was not made public this year, Tonja Couch, executive director of JCUW, said the campaign team is working hard to rally support and share the story of how United Way makes a difference in the community.
“In this very uncertain season, we are hopeful to raise a similar amount to last year,” she said.
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The 2019-20 campaign raised $788,407, which was $61,593 shy of the $850,000 goal for that year.
Maci Baurle, development director for Jackson County United Way, said the campaign has struggled to gain momentum.
Because the top 10 companies delayed their typical campaign kickoffs, the organization has hundreds of thousands of dollars to raise in the last three months of the year.
“We know that some families are struggling, but we also know there are many more that, despite a brief pause in work this spring, are back to work,” she said. “We need the community’s continued support by investing in United Way to ensure basic need programs are met to ensure a sustainable, thriving community for all.”
The public campaign runs until Nov. 25; however, some employee campaigns will take place in December.
While fundraising efforts may be different this year due to the virus, the need has definitely increased, Couch said.
“Each year, this campaign ensures critical resources are provided to our neighbors here in Jackson County, and that need has never been greater,” she said. “We know this year could be a struggle, but we also know that COVID has presented new opportunities for us to work differently.”
Serving as campaign co-chairs this year are John and Jamey Doriot. John is the director of nutrition and environmental services at Schneck Medical Center in Seymour, and Jamey is a teacher for Seymour Middle School.
Supporting them are vice co-chairs Curt and Summer Schleibaum, both Seymour High School teachers.
This year has seen unparalleled challenges for individuals, families and businesses, and United Way has answered the call to help by bringing together local nonprofit partners, governmental entities and faith-based organizations to ensure basic needs are being met throughout the county, John said.
“The strength of a community is judged by their ability to pull together during times of crisis,” he said. “United Way has been a constant fixture in our fight to support and improve the living conditions for all in Jackson County, especially during times of crisis.”
He and his wife give to United Way because they believe in the work it does for the community and see the direct impact of its programming.
“It is my sincere hope that this campaign will allow the residents and businesses to give and give generously,” he said.
The campaign is important because it supports not only United Way’s efforts in leading innovative and collaborative approaches to address community challenges but also 20 nonprofits and their program work, Jamey added.
“We chose the slogan for this year’s campaign ‘We Live Here. We Give Here. It Stays Here’ because we’re proud to be a part of a community whose members consistently step up to help neighbors in need,” she said. “All the money that is raised during the campaign goes to help people right here in Jackson County to fight for health, education and financial stability.”
The Schleibaums said now is the time for those who have never given to United Way to consider a gift.
“We stress the importance to our students that stepping outside your comfort zone sometimes can really open up opportunities for them, and with those given opportunities, you have to be mindful of giving back,” Summer said.
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For information on the Jackson County United Way campaign, call 812-522-5450.
Donations may be mailed to P.O. Box 94, Seymour, IN 47274 or made online at jacsy.org/donate.
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Jackson County United Way partner agencies
American Red Cross
Anchor House Family Assistance Center and Pantry
The Arc of Jackson County
Big Brothers Big Sisters of Southeast Indiana
Boy Scouts of America Hoosier Trails Council
Boys and Girls Club of Seymour
Child Care Network
Girl Scouts of Kentuckiana
Girls Inc. of Jackson County
Human Services Inc.: Head Start
Meals on Wheels
Mental Health America of Jackson County
Read Jackson County and Plaza Latina
The Salvation Army
Senior citizens centers in Brownstown, Crothersville, Freetown, Medora and Seymour
Turning Point Domestic Violence Services