The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia

December 24, 2012

There is still time to give!

United Way column

By Richard Jarrell
guest columnist

BECKLEY — Well, today is Christmas Eve and please allow me the opportunity to say Merry Christmas to each of you and your families!

As each of us spends the next couple of days opening gifts, eating too much and spending time with our loved ones, please spend a moment in prayer for each of the agencies that we serve at the United Way of Southern West Virginia. Many of these agencies have been working extra long hours recently trying to ensure that families needs are being met during this most special season.

I have been so proud of our community this Christmas season, with so many random acts of kindness that have been expressed. People have donated coats, toys, bicycles and money to great giving organizations like Mac’s Toy Fund and Toys for Tots. Countless Angel Tree wishes were met by strangers who just wanted to do something good for someone else in need. Food and meals are donated to wonderful places like Pine Haven. Schools had churches offer to adopt families, all in the name of Giving. Giving with nothing expected in return.

But now that the decorations will be going back on the shelves for the year, I hope that this caring, giving spirit doesn’t also get shelved until next holiday.

Today, nearly half of all American families are living near or below the poverty level. Right here in Raleigh County 56 percent of our children qualify for free and reduced lunches.

Until the economy turns around so that everyone in southern West Virginia can find a job and support their family, many of our neighbors will need a helping hand throughout the year. And that’s why the United Way is here!

We are now in the final week of 2012, but it is not too late to make a year-end contribution to the United Way. We are still needing to finish strong to meet that Big Goal of $500,000.

So please, as you do your final examination of your giving for the year, consider the United Way of Southern West Virginia. We promise to the most for as many people in our five-county area as humanly possible.

Once again, Merry Christmas and join us as we Live and Give United!

— United Way of Southern West Virginia 2012-2013 Campaign chair Richard Jarrell owns the two Chick-fil-A franchises in Beckley and is a member of the Raleigh County Board of Education.