2020 has brought many unforeseen challenges that have defied the limits of what we could have predicted at this time last year. We have all adapted to these challenges and continue to hope for solutions and relief, looking to the future with hope for a return to the normalcy of the past. We are in the midst of the holiday season and there is snow on the ground and a prediction of a white Christmas. I wish you all a joyous holiday and hope that the celebrations with your families, in whatever form they may take, are happy and healthy.

Because the holiday season is often a time to reflect on our blessings and consider how we may help those in need, I want to list some examples of how the donations to United Way of Southern West Virginia have a tangible effect on our community. Some loyal donors to United Way enclosed a very kind note with their donation recently and it made me reflect on the impact of their contribution and hope they and all of our donors are aware of the power of their support.  

It is the mission of our United Way to improve lives in southern West Virginia by focusing on the building blocks for a good quality of life: health, education, and financial stability.Our partner agencies provide services in those areas through resources like baby pantries, food pantries, utility assistance, meals for seniors, recovery programs, children’s advocacy and many others. It is the power of our collective dollars that provides support for our partners and direct services, like the 211 Information and Referral Hotline that guides people in need to the appropriate resource.  

A baby in its first year will need over 2,000 diapers. A $50 donation could provide one month’s worth of diapers to a family in need. The cost of baby formula can average between $1,200 and $1,500 during baby’s first year. A $50 donation could provide formula for up to two weeks in a household struggling with their food budget. Children between the ages of 1 and 3 outgrow their shoes four times a year. Between the ages of 4 and 8, children outgrow their shoes every six months. A $50 donation can provide three pairs of shoes to children wearing ill-fitting, weather-inappropriate footwear.  

Local senior centers have seen an increased need for delivered meals during the pandemic. The vulnerable senior population is more greatly restricted to going out, and many do not have transportation. The Raleigh County Commission on Aging has seen over a 40 percent increase in the number of home-delivered meals since the beginning of the pandemic. A $50 donation can provide a week’s worth of meals, delivered to a senior. 

These are just a few examples of the power of the collaborative efforts of our community. Donors can know that their $5, $10, $50 or $100 donation makes a difference because United Way does the research to offer its support where it will make the most impact. Please consider joining us in living, giving, and leading UNITED.

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