By TRAVIS MORSE firstname.lastname@example.org
---- — MT. VERNON — This year, United Way of South Central Illinois has found a unique way to recognize area companies that are contributing to the agency.
The names of these businesses will be featured on T-shirts hung on a special clothesline display in front of Crossroads Community Hospital.
United Way officials hope this display will both honor supportive companies and promote the agency's ongoing 2013 fundraising campaign.
“It's a fun way to recognize all these businesses,” said Rhonda Edmonson, executive director of UWSCI. “Our workplace campaigns are really the bread and butter of our partnerships.”
Each year, an estimated 100 area businesses conduct internal fundraising campaigns to help support United Way.
This includes companies in UWSCI's service area, which is made up of Marion, Wayne, Washington, and Jefferson counties, and parts of Hamilton County.
Now these businesses will be included in the new T-shirt display. Once a business has completed its internal campaign, a new T-shirt with that business' name on it will be added to the clothesline.
Edmonson said the white T-shirts have become a trademark of United Way. On each shirt is the phrase “Live United,” underneath which the company's name is placed.
“The T-shirt is a symbol of the work that we do. It's a brand,” Edmonson said.
The ongoing 2013 UWSCI campaign runs from Sept. 1 to Nov. 30.
This year, organizers have not set a specific goal for the campaign. However, a minimum of $300,000 to $400,000 needs to be raised to meet the agency's “impact goals,” Edmonson said.
“We're emphasizing what we do with the money, not the amount,” Edmonson said. “The work that we're doing is more focused on the impact. … It all stays right here in our community.”
In recent years, fundraising has been difficult for UWSCI, mainly due to the stagnant economy. Organizers are hoping that will change soon.
“The past few years have been tough. Dollars have been down,” Edmonson said, adding that UWSCI has found ways to diversify to continue supporting nonprofits and conducting internal programs. “We're working really hard with a small amount.”
Crossroads Community Hospital donated the property for United Way's new clothesline display. The hospital has been a long-time supporter of the agency, said Crossroads CEO Finny Mathew.
“We're happy to support United Way and their campaign,” Mathew said. “This is an outward demonstration of our support.”
In honor of UWSCI's 30th anniversary, the agency is asking those who have never donated before to give at least $30 if they can.
Also, regular contributors should try giving $30 extra this year, Edmonson said.
“It takes all of us working together to make these changes happen,” Edmonson said.