TIFTON - The United Way of South Central Georgia had just finished holding a fund drive kickoff breakfast on Tuesday, Sept. 11, when the news broke about the World Trade Center attacks.

Faced with the pressing need in New York and Washington, D.C., the agency put the local drive on the back burner and focused its efforts on the national disaster.

Three weeks later, the first reports on the campaign show just $9,465 of the United Way's $375,000 goal has been raised.

"What we're asking people is - we've all been very conscious of donating to disaster relief," said United Way Executive Director Carol Johnson. "Now, we need to turn our attention to the local agencies.

"If we don't get that money, some of our agencies will have to close their doors - literally."

United Way division chairmen are currently sending out letters and making calls, Johnson said. "That $375,000 is not giving the agencies what they asked for," she said.

"It's just what the board felt we could conceivably raise. We've got to realize these agencies are here to serve our six counties 365 days a year."

Funding for the 27 agencies served by the local United Way had to be cut by 25 percent this year after the previous fundraising campaign fell nearly $100,000 short of its $370,000 goal.

Agencies affected include the American Red Cross, Big Brothers/Big Sisters, Boy Scouts of Alapaha, Boy Scouts of Southwest Georgia, Carousel House, Christian Kitchen, Cook County Commission on Children and Youth, Foster Grandparents, Girl Scouts of Southwest Georgia, Helpline, Herring-Barfield Day Care Center, Hospice of TiftArea, House of Grace (Adel), Irwin County Family Connections Fun Factory and Irwin County Family Connections Day Care.

Also, Kids' Advocacy Coalition, Literacy Volunteers of America, Luther's House Agency Center, Meals on Wheels, Needy Children's Fund, Santa's Helpers, South Central Georgia Resource Line, Special Olympics, Tift County Child Abuse Council, Tifton Soup Kitchen, United Way Community Center and United Way Food Bank.

The United Way of South Central Georgia serves Tift, Ben Hill, Cook, Berrien, Irwin and Turner counties.

To contact city editor Florence Rankin, call 382-4321, ext. 209.

React to this story: