October 29, 2001 11:00 pm

By Alice Perry Linker

Observer Staff Writer

Neighbor-to-Neighbor Ministries gave out 95 boxes of food Saturday.

Thats the most weve ever given in one day, said Donna Furman, director of the all-volunteer charitable organization in La Grande.

Neighbor-to-Neighbor, a United Way agency, distributes food to needy families once a month, and without United Way contributions, the organization probably would fold, she said.

We get United Way donations twice a year, and the rest of the time we get between $500 and $600 from churches and individuals, Furman said. It doesnt go very far.

But unless contributions and pledges to United Way increase, there may be less for Neighbor-to-Neighbor and the other 11 charities that depend on the united effort. If United Way meets its goal of $112,000, Neighbor-to-Neighbor will receive $12,000 for 2002.

As of Monday, Union County United Way had received $49,596 in pledges and contributions, less than half its goal and less than the $53,500 raised by late October last year.

And theres something else, said Dawn Roe, executive director of United Way. We have over $19,000 in new money from the Williams Pipeline Riding the Line event and the United Way golf tournament in September. If you discount the new money, we are down by about $23,000.

Williams Pipeline matched new contributions raised through a bicycle event, Riding the Line, and the golf tournament.

Donations to local charities are less this year because of the New York terrorist attacks, but United Way President Ted Kramer said the local needs have not disappeared.

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We all support contributions to the victims of the terrorist attacks, he said, but we cant forget our local charities and the work they do every day for people in need in our community.

Neighbor-to-Neighbors Furman said that the effects of the terrorist attacks are being felt nationwide.

Its a trickle-down effect. People are losing their jobs, trying to get by on less, she said.

There are some bright spots, Roe said.

Union Pacific Railroad employees had a really successful campaign and pledged $13,200. UP Corporate gave $10,000.

With winter coming, the needs of people increase. Furman had 15 requests for help with heating bills last week.

We could help only three, she said.

Often Neighbor-to-Neighbor is the last defense for people who are in desperate financial straits and must choose between paying electric bills or buying warm clothing.

The United Way campaign will continue through the end of the year. People who are not part of an employee campaign and wish to contribute individually may send their donations to P.O. Box 862,

La Grande.

The other United Way agencies are Shelter From the Storm, Union County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), the American Red Cross, the Silver Sage Girl Scout Council, the Elgin Food Bank, Union County Search and Rescue, the Kids Club day care center, the Blue Mountain Council of the Boy Scouts of America, the Salvation Army, the Mount Emily Safe Center and the Health Network for Rural Schools.