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SPOTLIGHT
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Building bridges

Published on -9/12/2012, 9:12 AM

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If this year's United Way of Ellis County campaign has a theme of "building bridges," the crossing already has begun.

The 2012 fundraising event kicked off last week with $148,000 in commitments, thanks to the early work of Pacesetter companies. That amount is almost a third of the $475,000 goal the organization has set for itself.

If the current campaign is like any of the previous 10, that goal will be reached.

"No board that I've ever been associated with works as hard as this board does," said Jason Rauch, executive director of the Ellis County United Way.

We can't disagree with Rauch's assessment, although there are two other prominent factors involved with the group's regular success: a compassionate, generous community and solid track records of the 14 allocated agencies.

But it does take serious commitment from the volunteer board and campaign workers to raise almost half-a-million dollars in a county of this size.

"From the United Way standpoint, we are trying to be the bridge between ourselves and the agencies that we serve," said John Scheck, past president of the board of directors, during the kick-off presentation to the public.

All the money raised stays in the community. It helps provide a wide variety of necessary programs. A short list would include disaster response, youth mentoring and development, domestic violence services, food and supplies for children, educational opportunities and family services. All of these and more have been identified as community needs, and capable non-profit organizations are dedicated to serving them.

The 14 United Way of Ellis County member agencies are: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County, Cancer Council of Ellis County, CASA of the High Plains, Catholic Charities, Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, Ellis County Chapter of the American Red Cross, First Call for Help, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland-Sunflower Region, Hays Area Children's Center, Kansas Legal Services, Options: Domestic & Sexual Violence Services, Parents and Children Together, United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas and Western Kansas Association on Concerns of the Disabled.

If you have donated in the past, you already are aware of the quality programs and services the member agencies deliver. They are mission-focused and results-oriented.

If you haven't helped United Way before and have the capacity, we would encourage you to do so. Poverty rates, particularly for children, are on the rise in Kansas. Ellis County, unfortunately, is no exception. Every donation, regardless of size, will help loosen the grip poverty places on families.

To make a pledge or find out how else you might help in this noble cause, call (785) 628-8281, visit www.liveunited.us, or write United Way of Ellis County, 718 Main, Suite 206, Hays, KS 67601.

Help build a bridge.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net

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