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Donation destination: trace the path of an OHIO United Appeal gift

There is something about the holiday season that makes the act of giving even greater; however, when making a donation do you ever wonder where your gift goes and how it gets there? 

The annual "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" campaign allows Ohio University employees a quick and easy donation to United Appeal for Athens County. The best part? All donations go to local agencies that work to provide a helping hand to community members. What many may not know is the path these dollars take to reach an individual in need and just how much of an impact their gift can have long after the check has been signed.

Decision to donate

OHIO employees can donate either by making a one-time gift or by choosing a portion of their paycheck, however big or small, to be donated to United Appeal each pay period. Employees simply fill out a pledge card that comes to their campus mail. Donations can also be made online, by phone or by mail. When filling out the donation form, OHIO employees can elect to designate which of United Appeal's partner agencies to give their gift, or they can leave it undesignated. Leaving it blank will allow UA to send the funds to organizations that may be struggling more with funding challenges.

"The process of donating to United Appeal is special in that employees know their gift will help community members directly, and they have the opportunity to donate to any supported agency of their choice," said Jennifer Kirksey, co-chair of this year's "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" campaign.

The arrival at United Appeal

OHIO employee pledge cards are then sent to the University's payroll department. From there, OHIO takes the money donated by all employees and sends it to United Appeal for Athens County. Donations are sent periodically throughout the year, with the "United 2 Give United 2 Help" theme running from Nov. 1through December 24.

"The annual campaign is such a strong feature for the agencies with which we work because United Appeal annual gifts really supplement the fundraising agencies have to do on their own," said Pam Harvey, executive director of United Appeal for Athens County. "In addition, they can rely on this one time push with United Appeal and then see the benefits of that throughout the next calendar year."

To a local agency

Fourteen agencies partner with United Appeal, ranging from those that focus on helping individuals with disabilities, those in times of crises or people suffering from mental disorders. Karin Bright, communications and outreach chair for the Athens County Food Pantry, explains UA dollars play a big part in her organization's ability to support their mission.

"Nearly all of our donations or funding go directly to food purchases from the Southeast Ohio Food Bank and local grocery stores. Over 90 percent of every dollar goes to purchase food," said Bright. "Our United Appeal funding is used for these purchases to supply emergency food bags to residents of Athens County who are in need."

Donation to destination

After all is said and done, the path of a donation ends with a person or family in need. Athens' United Appeal donations provide support for agencies and citizens across the county, and it is clear that every dollar counts. Bright said that in 2012, the food pantry served 11,795 individuals in over 4,000 households by distributing 132,901 pounds of food.

"Helping feed hungry families is our mission and Ohio University employee contributions to United Appeal helps the Athens County Food Pantry do just that, feed hungry families every month," she said.

For more information about how to give to the "United 2 Give, United 2 Help" campaign, visit http://www.ohio.edu/unitedappeal.