A campaign for the community

Despite sluggish economy, area residents prove generous toward United Way

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Moffat County residents are generous with their pocketbooks.

Per capita, residents donate more dollars here to the local United Way than do 90 percent of donors nationwide, according to the Moffat County organization.

It's a trend that Corrie Scott, executive director of the Moffat County United Way, hopes the community will continue.

"This starts with residents because they are so generous," she said. "The number one reason we are successful is that individuals who live in this community support United Way."

United Way collects donations from community members and businesses to redistribute to local agencies in need of funding. The group kicked off its 2004 campaign earlier this month with hopes to raise $310,000 by Nov. 22.

In the last ten years, donations from Moffat County residents to the local United Way have more than doubled. In 1993, residents donated $166,761. Contributions last year reached $340,000.

In Moffat County, United Way distributes dollars to a long list of groups including Moffat County Partners, Northwest Colorado Visiting Nurse Association and Moffat County Crisis Intervention Team.

With state and federal funding tightening up, some agencies may be especially in need of United Way dollars this year, Scott said.

But the 2004 campaign, which focuses on children's needs and is named "Investing in the Next Generation," already has raised more than $70,000, mainly from employees at the Tri-State Power Plant.

"They started the campaign before everyone else and earned the Pacesetter Award for this year," Scott said of Tri-State donors.

A variety of companies in Moffat County offer a 100 percent match for employee donations, which often come out of payroll deductions. Those matching dollars are one reason that Moffat County donations top dollars gathered from other counties.

Money gathered by United Way up until the late November deadline is set aside as local agencies apply for funding. Those dollars are distributed in the spring according to United Way board approval.

In the past, donation surpluses have helped create capital projects, such as equipment at Craig's Woodbury Park or provided other sports equipment for children, Scott said.

In tight financial times, agencies have been known to reapply and obtain funding from United Way as needs arise throughout the year.

While it may seem a sagging economy may deter donations, Scott found that the opposite is true.

"In my seven years here, I've noticed that if people think the economy is struggling they tend to give more," she said.

She surmised that when people feel the economy is doing well they are less likely to think of others in need.

"We haven't had the gangbuster years when the economy is doing good," she said. "Donors are much more active now."

But those trends may equalize because as local agencies see funding cuts, donations to those groups are needed more than ever.

"In bad years, people give as much if not more than the previous year," she said.

Amy Hatten can be reached at 824-7031 or ahatten@craigdailypress.com.

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