Contributions to the United Way of Central Maryland's fund-raising campaign are running 25 percent behind the amount collected this time last year.
But the group's workers are still optimistic about reaching their goals by the time the campaign ends in January.
"Like the baseball great Yogi Berra used to say, 'It ain't over 'til it's over,' " said Mel Tansil, spokesman for the United Way. "There's two more months of the campaign. We're not giving up and we're optimistic."
In Carroll, although contributions are lagging, countycompanies already have pledged $458,570, or 51 percent of the organization's $901,446 goal. Carroll contributions totaled $866,775 last year.
Baltimore County has reached 37 percent of its $9,159,607 goal, Anne Arundel has pledged 28 percent of its $1,331,555, Howard has given 45 percent of its $1,151,537 goal and Harford has reached 27 percent of $103,614.
"In comparison with other jurisdictions, Carroll is leading the way," Tansil said. "The community has always been responsive, especially in Carroll County. Last year, Carroll had a record year in giving."
Since giving statistics are organized by whereparticipating companies are based, the numbers probably do not clearly reflect how much Carroll residents have actually donated.
For example, Grempler Realty has offices in Carroll County but their headquarters are in Baltimore County, Tansil said. Therefore, those contributions are added to Baltimore County's total.
"Certainly Carroll County residents have given much more money," he said. "But for internal accounting purposes, the county goals are in terms of locations of the businesses."
Regionwide, the United Way -- which depends on fund-raising drives in large companies -- is feeling the pinch this year because layoffs and hiring freezes have reduced the number of prospective donors.
Also, many white-collar workers who normally support the United Way are those in need this year, Tansil said.
"People who never had to make a call like that in their lives are in need of emergency food, shelter and clothing," he said.
Thus, United Way workers are turning their efforts to small companies that have not conducted campaigns before.
"Through layoffs and hiring freezes, there are 15,000 potential donors gone," Tansil said. "The donor base is eroding, and through first-time accounts we are trying to get someof those employees to fill the void."
United Way representatives are trying to encourage people to give what they can while being sympathetic to perspective donors' fears for their own economic safety.
"A lot of people are apprehensive, and rightfully so, about their own situation," Tansil said. "But we're trying to appeal to people that they don't need to give thousands of dollars a year to make a difference.
"A dollar a week would provide a meal for 25 hungry children."
Year Pledged .. % increase
1991 .. .$458,570* ..incomplete
1990 .. ..866,775 .. .. .. .8.9
1989 .. ..795,518 .. .. .. .195
1988 .. ..270,000 ..unavailable
* United Way pledges to date