Local United Way sets $1M fundraising goal
by Madasyn Czebiniak
mczebiniak@annistonstar.com
Aug 20, 2013 | 3141 views |  0 comments | 43 43 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The United Way of East Central Alabama kicked off its 2013-14 fundraising campaign Tuesday at the Bridge at First United Methodist Church in Anniston. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
The United Way of East Central Alabama kicked off its 2013-14 fundraising campaign Tuesday at the Bridge at First United Methodist Church in Anniston. (Anniston Star photo by Bill Wilson)
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For Becky Cox, a parent involvement specialist and homeless liaison for Calhoun County schools, second chances mean everything.

As she spoke at the United Way of East Central Alabama’s 2013-14 campaign kick-off Tuesday at First United Methodist Church in Anniston, she recalled a life she helped change.

“A student, dreaming of graduation, was broke and he was kicked out of his home by his mother,” she said.

The student was living with family in Wellborn but had been attending school in Ohatchee, Cox said. She was unable to get a school bus to drive him back and forth every day, so she called Anniston City Taxi to do it instead.

“You would have thought I sent a super stretch limo. He would strut out of that taxi and walk into the school like he owned the joint. He was happy to be in school. His dream came true,” she said.

This year’s United Way fundraising theme, “Dream Big,” promises those participating in the fundraising efforts that they can make dreams come true, too.

United Way Executive Director Curtis Simpson said the organization received $964,000 in donations last year, and is hoping for $1 million this year.

One thing that could help, he said, is for companies to offer donations through payroll deductions, something 95 percent of the organization’s donors did last year. However, because the economy is so bad, some companies have stopped offering that option. Still, there is a silver lining.

“Even with all that, we still live in a very caring community. People still care about their fellow residents,” he said.

Fifteen local companies are participating in United Way payroll deduction this year.

Sonde Coleman, United Way’s 2013 campaign chair, said she likes to give to the United Way because she knows exactly where her money is going and how it is being used.

“Our allocation volunteers distribute the money to the different agencies who divide the money among the nonprofits,” she said. Allocation volunteers make visits to all the nonprofit organizations in Calhoun County to find out what they need and how donated money is being spent.

“It’s a very clear and pristine process. Our books are open and our agencies books are open,” Simpson said.

Joe Nabors, the executive director for the Calhoun-Cleburne Children’s Center, said being part of the United Way is important because it demonstrates involvement in the community.

“It not only shows we’re credible but enforces us to continue to fight,” he said.

Cox said working for United Way is all about making people, like the homeless student for whom she arranged transportation, reach their dreams.

“He stopped me one day and stopped me dead in the face and said to me, ‘How can someone like you help someone like me?” she said.

Upon reflection, Cox realized she got it all wrong. That same young man is now serving in the military, protecting her rights.

“How can someone like that do that for someone like me?” she asked.

Staff writer Madasyn Czebiniak: 256-235-3546. On Twitter @MCzebiniak_Star.

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