United Way campaign pledges coming in

Latest reports from the United Way of North Central Mississippi show that the 2011 fundraising campaign has reached nearly 19 percent of its goal.
Reports compiled Friday showed that the campaign has seen $74,925.87 in pledges, which is 18.73 percent of the $350,000 campaign goal.
Of the amount raised, $54,285.58 has been raised by Mississippi State University students, faculty and staff. A 5K run hosted by MSU last weekend raised more than $2,500.
“We’ve gotten a good bit of money and are many campaigns are under way with individual businesses and other groups,” said Rives.
“We want to encourage those who have not started a United Way campaign to do so and to call our office for help. If they have never had a campaign and would like to do so, now is a good time.”
Several special events are helping to raise money for the United Way campaign. The recent Bulldog Bash will bring in $2,135 in funds raised through text message donations, bringing the campaign’s mobile giving totals to date to $2,475.
The mobile giving amount is not included in the current fundraising total since that money has not yet been received, said United Way Executive Director Nikki Rives.
Another upcoming event is a special charity sale at the Belk Department Store in Columbus on Nov. 6 from 6 to 10 a.m.
Tickets are $5, and all proceeds go to the United Way.
Some 500 tickets are available locally for the sale and can be purchased by calling the United Way office at 323-3830. Rives will also be present at the store that morning selling tickets.
A similar sale held in the spring raised $540 for the United Way.
“You must have a ticket to enter the sale and you will receive $5 off your first purchase so you basically get your money back.  Belk splits the proceeds with the charities who are present the day of the sale,” Rives said. 
The upcoming Festival of Trees will also allow the public an opportunity to make donations toward the United Way campaign. The Festival of Trees will be held Nov. 9, 10, 11 and 13 at the Palmeiro Center on campus.
Established in 1974 and serving Oktibbeha, Winston, Choctaw and Webster counties, the local United Way organization raises money to support 18 charitable agencies in Oktibbeha County and the greater Golden Triangle region.
In 2009, United Way dollars helped these agencies serve 3,176 people in health training, education, treatment and assistance; 2,176 people in meeting income-based needs such as food and emergency assistance; and 2,721 people through various education programs offered by United Way agencies, according to statistics compiled by the United Way staff.
Agencies receiving local United Way funding include:
• American Red Cross.
• Area Agency on Aging/ Fellowship Foods/Homemaker Service.
• Boy Scouts of America.
• Boys and Girls Club of Oktibbeha County.
• Brickfire Project.
• CONTACT Helpline.
• The Father’s Child Ministries.
• 4-H Clubs.
• Girl Scouts of Northeast Mississippi.
• Habitat for Humanity.
• Helping Hands Ministries of Oktibbeha County.
• North Mississippi Kidney Foundation.
• Oktibbeha County Humane Society.
• Prairie Opportunity Inc.
• Recovery House Inc.
• Salvation Army.
• Safe Haven/The Rape Crisis Center.
• Sally Kate Winters Family Services.
All United Way contributions — regardless of the giving method or level — are tax-deductible. The vast majority of money raised is used to benefit the United Way agencies , Rives said.
“Ninety-nine cents out of every dollar remains in our community. Less than 1 percent of the funds raised in our four-county area goes to the United Way of America,” Rives said.
United Way dollars are put to the most effective use possible, Rives said. “Volunteers from throughout Oktibbeha County and all walks of life meet annually to tour each agency and review budgets, services and requests for funding to determine how dollars can make the greatest impact,” she said.

Multiple ways to give

Members of the public have multiple choices in deciding to give to the United Way campaign, including:
• Mobile giving — Using one’s cellular phone, a donor can send the text message “NCMISS” to UNITED (864833). This will add a $5 charge to a person’s cellular phone bill that will be donated directly to the United Way. A donor can make no more than one text message donation per day.
• Payroll deduction — If one’s employer has the capability of doing this option, the donor may elect to have a certain amount of money from each paycheck be donated to the United Way for a certain number of pay periods.
• Donation by cash or check — A donor may make a one-time cash or check donation.
• Credit card — A donor can choose to make a one-time or monthly donation via a specific credit card.
• Pacesetters — Individuals may also want to contribute through a Pacesetter gift.
Pacesetters are donors or groups contributing $500 or more during a campaign, with multiple identified levels, including community donor ($500 to $749), community friend ($750 to $1,499) and community hero ($1,500 and above).
For more information about making contributions to United Way, call 323-3830 or stop by the offices at 1016G Louisville St. Pledge forms are also available at the Starkville Daily News offices at 304 E. Lampkin St., which are open from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday to Friday.