The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 23, 2013

Count blessings; assist others

United Way column

By Frank Wood

— If our families are blessed and prosperous this holiday season, perhaps we should consider ourselves fortunate, because there are hundreds, maybe even thousands, of our neighbors who are just hanging on.

And as we and our families dig into a delicious holiday meal, many in our community will be breaking out the meager supplies they picked up at a local food bank, or their food stamps enabled them to purchase.

When we and our families tell stories around the fire, others will literally sit shivering in their homes because they have no money to heat them.

The truth is that there are millions of American families that have been pushed to the edge of despair by the lack of jobs. Many have been out of work for two years or longer.

Planning for a happy Christmas for your family is challenging when you lack the resources to celebrate properly with your children. That’s why many organizations in towns and cities across America recognize this reality and aim to help.

And that’s why our 34 agencies of the United Way of Southern West Virginia and area citizens band together during the holiday season to offer relief to low-income families and struggling individuals during this special time of year.

The United Way vigorously supports the efforts of these nonprofit agencies, community sponsors and volunteers who offer services to poor families in need of help.

Teaming up with our community-minded organizations and faith groups, the United Way accepts donations so it can provide clothing, food, facilities and other needs for disadvantaged families in the region during the holidays.

Many people in our area often find themselves in hard times during Christmas, which is especially difficult in a season when you want to be able to give freely. But various assistance groups and partners working with the United Way of Southern West Virginia — including the counties of Fayette, Raleigh, Summers, Nicholas and Wyoming — strive to help underprivileged people have a positive Christmas experience even if they lack the financial resources on their own.

 For the past few months, local United Way staff and volunteers have been gearing up for the holidays by collecting donations from individuals and corporate groups throughout the area.

Focused on the fundamental issues of education, financial stability and health, the United Way network supports community initiatives and nonprofit organizations that help people from all walks of life. Chances are that you, a family member, a friend or a neighbor has benefited from United Way’s efforts.

Your United Way gift is an investment in a powerful system of interconnected programs and services. The value of your donation has a remarkable impact when pooled with other gifts, no matter how great or how small.

When you donate to the United Way, your contribution supports programs that can help people find work, transportation, housing, child care, and more. By donating to the United Way, you strengthen the entire system — and in doing that, you strengthen your entire community.

Our member organizations recognize this value. By partnering with the United Way, you help us fulfill our mission: bringing people together to tackle our community’s most difficult issues, because no one person or organization can do it alone.

What’s more, your donation is a statement of trust in our organization and our ability to serve our community.

And as the holidays approach and we reflect on the blessings we have received during the past year, our minds and hearts turn to the Christmas tradition we have all grown up with.

Our holiday wish list for the less fortunate among us offers a wide range of opportunities for businesses, faith groups, families and individuals to support our cause with donations that help us reach our goal of $525,000.

When seasonal parties and shopping leave you feeling a little empty, perhaps it’s time to really get into the holiday spirit by giving back to your community.

Making a pledge to the United Way not only is tax-deductible, it is quick and easy and can be done either online (, through a simple call (304-253-2111), or to our United Way office (P.O. Box 5456, Beckley, WV 25801).

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2013-2014 Campaign Chair Frank Wood is publisher of Beckley Newspapers.