United Way ready to kick off fundraising

By Kevin Wilson: CNJ staff writer

Some people don’t have to look far to see the impact the United Way has on the community. Todd Morris only needs to look down the hallway at work.

“Without kids getting fed, getting clothed, getting things taken care of,” said Morris, principal at James Bickley Elementary in Clovis, “our kids can’t have a quality of life that is necessary.”

That quality of life, through meals, school supplies donations and aid for local families in need, comes significantly through organizations the United Way of Eastern New Mexico sponsors.

The group is getting set to start its kickoff for the fund-raising season, and has scheduled a pair of parties to coincide with high school football kickoffs.

Greyhound Stadium will host the first party, with a 5-6 p.m. party Friday prior to Portales High’s game against Muleshoe. The party will shift to Leon Williams Stadium the same time next Friday for Clovis High’s game against Highland.

The charity is looking to raise $580,000 over the last four months of 2009 — $490,000 for Curry County and $90,000 for Roosevelt County. Erinn Burch, executive director for UWENM, said those fund-raising totals are in line with what the organization raised in 2007.

With the economy in a downturn since 2008, Morris said it’s even more important to give.

“The problems don’t go away for people in the community,” Morris said. “We’ve got to understand we’ve still got to fund these agencies that help out our families in need every day.”

Burch said the Friday parties are basically low-pressure ways to give people information on the United Way, without immediately asking for funds — and to use the football games to gain crowds without incurring expenses on the charitable organization.

“These events per se aren’t fund-raisers,” Burch said. “It’s actually just an outreach event.”