Why Countians Need the United Way

October 04, 1994

As Americans become more unwilling to let government care for the needy, the role of reputable charitable organizations such as the United Way of Central Maryland becomes increasingly important.

A recent Times Mirror Inc. survey indicates that fewer Americans than ever believe government ought to help the less fortunate, largely because they don't trust government to spend their money wisely, partly because they are feeling self-absorbed and impatient with the plight of others. It has become easy to stereotype "the needy" as derelicts who refuse to work for a living. In fact, they are the elderly homebound lady who no longer can cook for herself, the teen-aged mother trying to find affordable day care so she can go to work, the family faced with losing its home because the husband lost his job. They are people struggling with crises any of us might face at some point in our lives.

In Anne Arundel County, the United Way found nearly 2,000 homeless people in shelters last year -- and another 1,000 who were turned away. It found 670 cases of child abuse or neglect. Some 18,300 people living below the poverty line. And a skyrocketing elderly population.

Whether and to what extent government should be involved in social causes remains largely a matter of political philosophy. But with or without government intervention, society cannot simply abandon its most desperate citizens, not morally and not practically; desperation breeds crime and erodes the quality of life for everyone.

Giving to the United Way, whose 1994-95 fund-raising campaign is now under way, is an easy way to help the area meet its social needs -- and probably more efficient than relying on government. A simple payroll deduction system makes donation painless, and extensive use of volunteers means money doesn't get lost in administrative overhead. You can designate which charities you want your money to go to -- and rest assured it actually gets there.

The United Way of Central Maryland has suffered from declining donations these past few years due mainly to the recession. We urge Anne Arundel County residents to do what they can to reverse this trend. For more information, call the United Way Community Partnership of Anne Arundel County in Millersville at 410-987-7602.

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