TIFTON - Still struggling after a late start, the United Way of South Central Georgia was at about 24 percent of its $375,000 fund-raising goal at the first of this week.

"I'm calling around right now to see if we got in any additional money," said United Way Executive Director Carol Johnson Monday afternoon. "We're hoping to get to 30 percent this week."

Local UW organizers kicked off their fund drive with a breakfast Sept. 11, only to see national disaster strike minutes later. The United Way relaxed the usual rule against fundraising by agencies it serves to allow the American Red Cross to collect money for the victims in New York and Washington, but the outpouring of support appears to have had an effect on local pledges.

"There's no way we can end it Nov. 15 after we lost that first month," Johnson said. "We're definitely going to have run it into December. We haven't set a cutoff date yet."

Johnson said low pledges are a nationwide problem for the United Way this year. President George W. Bush has made a television commercial asking for support of the agency.

Locally, the United Way serves 27 agencies in Tift, Ben Hill, Irwin, Turner, Berrien and Cook counties, including the 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 and Helpline.

Also, Herring-Barfield Day Care Center, Hospice of TiftArea, House of Grace (Adel), Irwin County Family Connections Fun Factory, Irwin County Family Connections Day Care, Kids' Advocacy Coalition, Literacy Volunteers of America, Luther's House Agency Center and Meals on Wheels.

Also, 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.

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

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