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United Way Giving Remains Positive Despite Overwhelming Need

WHEELING — Cancellations of most in-person fund-raising events have been the norm since the COVID-19 pandemic took its grip on the Ohio Valley. But local businesses and individuals have stepped up in other ways to ensure the United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley remains viable to help those most in need.

United Way Executive Director Jess Rine said while some popular events for 2021 are in a holding pattern, the United Way will move forward as more opportunities open up.

Last year’s golf scramble was scrapped due to COVID as was the Wheeling Feeling Chili Cookoff in June, both crowd-pleasing and profitable endeavors for the United Way.

“Frankly we are clueless as to what the future holds. We plan to move ahead with our golf scramble this year until we hear otherwise. Golf seems to be one of the safest and are very popular in this area,” Rine said.

“We will work with the city on other festivals. Our number one priority is to keep our community safe.”

Despite the loss of fundraiser funds, Rine noted that employee campaigns have been revving up. This option for giving offers employees an opportunity to donate to United Way through a number of payroll deduction plans.

Also on a positive note is an increase in the number of companies that have stepped up to help United Way.

Rine noted that the United Way is growing its relationships with gas and oil companies and financial institutions that have stepped up to help.

“Our employee campaigns have been reaching out and we have had many new donors,” Rine said.

She believes the increase is due to the fact that many of these companies who have been working at 100 percent have seen an increase in suffering as more people are living paycheck to paycheck or who have lost wages during the pandemic.

“The organizations that we fund are some of the toughest programs. Financial help is what we are seeing now. Our 211 Center has received quite a bit of calls – rent, utilities – those needs have skyrocketed,” Rine commented.

Anyone in need can call 211 and receive information on what aid is available. United Way funds help more than a dozen local organizations provide resources and direct aid to those in need. United Way of the Upper Ohio Valley serves Brooke, Ohio, Marshall and Wetzel counties in West Virginia and Belmont and Monroe counties in Ohio.

Last year’s United Way campaign raised $814,000 over its July to June fiscal year.

Rine hopes to meet or exceed that number throughout the current campaign.

Anyone interested in donating to United Way can contact Rine at 304-232-4625.

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