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United Way Committee Kicks Off Another Smith Campaign

The fall United Way Campaign has kicked off at Smith College with a $145,000 goal, which represents 8 percent of the Hampshire County United Way's $1.75 million goal.

The combined and consistent generosity of the Smith community is one of the most important underpinnings of citizen support for social services in Hampshire County. In fact, Smith’s United Way campaign has historically been one of the strongest college campaigns nationwide.

Employees will soon receive campaign pledge materials asking them to support this year’s campaign as generously as they can, keeping in mind that every individual’s participation, at whatever level, demonstrates the Smith College community’s care and concern for the greater community. Donors may elect for their gift to be divided among the 32 agencies, designated to a cluster, a specific agency, or even an individual nonprofit agency that is not part of the Hampshire Community UW roster.

While the Smith College Campaign Steering Committee urges all employees to participate, it emphasizes the ease of giving through payroll deduction. The United Way pledge forms allow employees to have a set amount deducted from each pay period. A popular payroll deduction, for example, is $1 a week for a total annual gift of $52.

“If you asked me for a $50 check, I’d hesitate thinking of other obligations I have,” comments Merrilyn Lewis, president of Staff Council and a member of Smith’s United Way Steering Committee. “But $1 dollar a week deducted through payroll is painless. If I don’t see it in the first place, I don’t miss it. I think for many people, a dollar a week would be affordable if they approach it this way.”

What will that $1 support? It can provide a family of four with 14 days of emergency food, for example. For a contribution of $3 week, a child from a low-income family can attend a week of camp in the summer. Five dollars a week could provide a week of licensed childcare for an infant. And $10 a week can provide three medical or dental visits for a child not covered by health insurance.

In one year, the United Way serves roughly 50,000 out of the 150,000 people living in Hampshire County, estimates Greg Prince, president of Hampshire College, who serves as this year’s Hampshire County Campaign chair.

Sandra Doucett, director of corporate and foundation relations, and a UW Steering Committee member, saw firsthand the efficacy of United Way donations when she visited local agencies last year as chair of the Children and Youth Panel, one of six UW funds distribution committees.

“Hearing how the lives of at-risk teenage girls are touched by mentors provided by the YWCA, or how families who adopt special needs children are supported by Children’s Aid and Family Services really makes giving to the United Way feel personal,” said Doucett. “It also drives home how at some point in your own life, you or a family member may be in need, and how grateful we should be for the support system these agencies provide. I don’t think that many people realize how involved everyday citizens are, not only in receiving the services provided by the United Way, but in helping to determine priorities among many pressing needs.”

In addition to the campus mailings of pledge materials, Smith United Way volunteers will be available to answer questions, provide pledge materials, and to thank members of the community for their support at three campus events this fall: an information table during the lunch hour in the Campus Center on Monday, October 6; at the Octoberfest Luncheon at the Smith College Club on Friday, October 24; and at the Human Resources Benefits Fair on Tuesday, November 4.

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