Franklin-Southampton United Way in need of your donation

Published 9:34 am Saturday, December 10, 2011

by Frank Rickman

For a while now I have wanted to write a letter encouraging you to support the local United Way Campaign.

I have struggled with how to proceed in that endeavor and therefore have put it off. But today I came across a quote from Abraham Lincoln that I believe is a good place to start.

The former president said, “I am a firm believer in the people. If given the truth, they can be depended upon to meet any national crisis. The great point is to bring them the real facts.”

I will admit Mr. Lincoln was probably referring to the War Between The States, which of course was a national crisis.

But I want to talk to you about a crisis that we are facing here. And I believe that given the facts you will meet this local need.

The Franklin-Southampton Area United Way is trying to raise $175,000 this year to help our local agencies. One of the greatest obstacles is that we don’t have International Paper operating at this time.

I helped with the mill campaign the last 10 years it was there. Every year we could count on the employees to contribute from $50,000 to $150,000. That was matched by International Paper with 60 cents for every dollar.

The best year we had, including the match, gave over $250,000 to the United Way. So you can see that without the mill and its employees we have a huge deficit to make up.

This is where you can make a difference and be a United Way Hero. You can “stand in the gap.”

Last year our United Way agencies delivered over 22,000 services with programs. Their total services far exceeded that amount. Can you imagine the impact if our agencies have to turn people away due to lack of funding?

Now that you know the crisis that we are facing, let me give you some more of the facts. Every dollar that is donated to the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way stays right here in Franklin and Southampton County.

We have grants that cover all our administrative costs.

So your donation doesn’t go to some other location; it stays right here. And it doesn’t cover salaries, advertising or anything like that. It goes to these agencies to help people.

Our United Way agencies cover all sorts of needs including helping children grow up to be productive citizens.

Among the 28 agencies we raise funds for are the American Red Cross, Salvation Army, Make-A-Wish, Habitat For Humanity, Boys and Girls Club, Scouting, Franklin Cooperative Ministries and Tidewater Youth Services.

You may wonder how we decide what agencies to fund and how we divide up the funds. We have a group of residents called the citizens’ review committee that looks at each grant request. These United Way agencies have to prove they are providing services to people who live in Franklin or Southampton County.

They show us their budgets and explain why they are asking for funding. So the people who live and work here decide where your United Way contribution can best be used.

I hope you can see that the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way is one of the best ways for you to help make a difference in the life of a local family.

We need heroes! We don’t need the Hollywood version with special effects and computer-generated superpowers. We need the real everyday kind of hero who quietly makes a difference in the world. We need the kind of hero who sees a need and bravely steps up.

Will you be a hero for our area? Please make a generous contribution to the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way. You can mail a tax-deductible gift to FSAUW at P.O. Box 366 in Franklin. Or call 569-8929 for more information.

Thank you so much for supporting your United Way.

FRANK RICKMAN is campaign chairman for the Franklin-Southampton Area United Way and can be reached at