United Way starts drive

Written by Bill Rautenstrauch, The Observer October 10, 2012 02:10 pm

All money raised in Union County stays in Union County

United Way of Eastern Oregon’s annual fundraiser has shifted into high gear, giving Union and Baker County residents a golden opportunity to help their neighbors in need.

The fundraiser, which kicked off Oct. 1 and continues through December, gleans donations for a wide array of agencies and organizations that help the community’s disadvantaged. Executive Director Elena Nightingale said it’s a key element in the ongoing effort to deliver vital services. 

“We support local non-profit human resource agencies in Union and Baker counties,” Nightingale said. “Our fundraiser reduces the amount of fundraising those agencies have to do through the year.”

Nightingale said all money raised in Union County stays in Union County, unless a donor designates the contribution should go elsewhere. Any part of or the entire donation may be designated for a specific agency.

More than a dozen agencies in Union and Baker County benefit from United Way’s efforts. They include area food banks, Neighbor to Neighbor Ministries, domestic violence crisis intervention services including Shelter From the Storm and Mayday, Court Appointed Special Advocates, organizations for young people such as Kids Club and Girl Scouts, and more.

Nightingale said most of those agencies and organizations operate on a tight budget and have a continual need for community support. Most depend on volunteers.

“The volunteers use their own resources. They drive their own automobiles and pay for their own gas. This means the dollars go further and go to the needs of the people they serve,” she said.

Highlighting the volunteer efforts, Nightingale pointed to the Elgin Food Bank. She said it has been in operation for 10 years and most of the original volunteers are still there, even though working conditions are less than ideal.

“They are, in their own words, ‘old,’ but they are dedicated,” Nightingale said. “In order to save money while working in the large, drafty building, they bundle up in hats, coats, gloves and long underwear.”

To help United Way, people can sign up for a regular payroll deduction, or they can make individual donations through check, debit or credit card. Nightingale said any and all help is appreciated.

“We seek a lot of small donations. There are just under 10,000 households in Union County, and if each gave just a dollar a week, we’d raise a large amount,” Nightingale said.

People wanting to give through payroll deduction should talk to their employers. Individuals whose employers who don’t have a deduction program, or those wanting to make private donations, can contact United Way at 541-962-0306, This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it or PO Box 862, La Grande 97850.

To learn more about United Way of Eastern Oregon, visit the Website at www.eoni.com/uweo.