Help restore Washington County's generosity

August 22, 2004|by John Schnebly

In a few short weeks, the summer of 2004 will be winding down. This being the case, it's not too early to talk about one of Washington County's important fall projects, the annual United Way campaign.

United Way is a key player in supporting a core of 21 critical charities in our community. Some of its member agencies are organizations such as the YMCA, the Boys and Girls Club, Food Resources and the Red Cross.

This small sample of member agencies gives you a flavor for what United Way organizations do for the community. Are you concerned about supporting the development of good citizenship and sound character with our children? Then support the YMCA and the Boys and Girls Club and give to United Way.

Do you want to assure that every member of our community doesn't lack for basic needs such as food? Then support Food Resources and give to the United Way. If you need an operation, do you want to assure that a ready supply of blood is available? Then support the Red Cross and give to United Way.


All 21 United Way agencies perform serious and essential tasks that sustain our local community. In recent years though, financial support for these endeavors has stagnated.

United Way of Washington County raised $1,614,000 in 2001, $1,623,000 in 2002 and $1,587,000 in 2003. Clearly, if this trend continues, the ability of our charitable agencies to continue their operations will be at risk.

There was a time when the most respected persons in our business community made sure that the services rendered by United Way agencies were properly funded. Individuals with names like Kagle, Barr, Callas, Hershey, Waltersdorf and Zeigler donated their time and their wealth to making sure needs were met.

A couple of decades back, these leaders set high standards for each campaign, and routinely exceeded their goals.

Today, we seem to be fighting an unhealthy apathy about local charitable giving. Perhaps the "me" generation attitudes of the baby boomers and the Gen-xers are to blame.

Maybe the steady political celebration of the individual and self-reliance has eroded our sense of social obligation. Whatever the cause, we seem to have lost our appreciation of altruism and what a positive influence it can have on our quality of life.

In a few weeks, our local United Way will establish its fund-raising goal for the fall campaign. Rest assured the needs greatly exceed the $1,587,000 raised by last year's effort.

If you've donated regularly in the past, please consider increasing your donation to the cause. If you've never given, or haven't donated recently, please consider making a pledge.

The money will go to a multitude of good causes and your life, as well as the lives of those helped by your caring, will be all the richer.

John Schnebly is a Funkstown resident who writes for The Herald-Mail.

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