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United Way of Crawford County up and running

May 21, 2008
The United Way of Crawford County, up and running for just a short time, is already lending a helping hand in the community.

The fledgling organization recently completed a food drive where it placed large barrels for people to drop off non-perishable items, such as canned goods, and is hoping to do a similar event for school supplies before the fall.

Mary Talmadge, part of a small group of residents that moved the organization from just an idea to reality, said the the United Way of Crawford County will be associated with the United Way of Perry County, since no new charters are being given, but it will be its own organization with its own steering committee.

"The money that's made here stays here," she said, noting that even the 3 percent of its annual fundraising campaign it will give to Perry County will be given back through in-kind services.

Talmadge said Rebecca Fenn, Perry County's executive director, is to provide five hours of work per month for the Crawford County organization.

"They're doing everything essentially on the administrative end for us right now," she said.

Perry County will also provide fundraising training for volunteers, Talmadge said, noting Perry County raised $122,000 last year.

"So, all of the organizations that asked for grants got them," she said.

While the United Way of Crawford County is some time off in beginning a workplace payroll campaign — it still must contact area businesses — it plans on doing so, Talmadge said. Employees at participating companies will be able to give a percentage of their paycheck to the new United Way or to specific non-profit groups signed up to receive funding, she said.

In addition, Talmadge said, residents who work for a business outside of the county that participates in the campaign may direct their payroll deductions to the United Way of Crawford County.

Talmadge said she was part of a group of six to eight people interested in starting a United Way in Crawford County, but they were just spinning their wheels as they were unsure what to do. Familiar with Perry County's United Way, she said she asked Fenn for guidance. Fenn told the group it needed to have an existing United Way sponsor it since the national United Way is no longer issuing new charter.

The Crawford County group asked Perry County to sponsor it, and the Perry County board, after getting more information, voted unanimously to do so, Talmadge said.

Wanting to do something to help the community right off the bat, the United Way of Crawford County begin collecting food for the Crawford County United Ministries' food banks at Leavenworth and Marengo and the Martin's Cloak Food Bank at Siberia in Perry County. Talmadge said the latter was included because several western Crawford County residents use that one instead, because it's a closer drive.

The United Way of Perry County donated signs and barrels were placed at churches, the county's public libraries, senior citizen centers and several businesses.

"Nobody said no," Talmadge said, adding, "That says something."

Talmadge said the steering committee is hopeful that if it does a "Stuff the Bus" campaign this summer to collect supplies for the county's schools, it will be just as successful.

The effort, she explained, would involve parking a school bus in front of the Wal-Mart Supercenters at Corydon and Paoli for shoppers to drop pens, notebooks and other school supplies they purchased inside the store in the bus.

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