Central Maryland safety net

United Way: National trauma interrupted annual campaign, makes its success more necessary.

October 01, 2001

THIS YEAR'S GOAL of $45 million for the United Way of Central Maryland's annual campaign is a moderate 4.2 percent more than last year's result.

But the downsizing of several of the largest work forces that contribute, and the pessimistic economic climate, make that goal harder to reach.

And the same forces create a likelihood that demand for the services of voluntary health and human service agencies will increase more than that percentage.

But a distraction intervened on the way to the pledge drive at most workplaces: The nation suffered the agony of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. As their hearts went out to the suffering in New York and the kin of deceased and wounded, so went the generosity of many Baltimoreans.

Baltimore's United Way, the Baltimore Community Foundation and the Association of Baltimore Area Grantmakers all directed donations to the September 11th Fund created by their New York counterparts.

By last week, individuals, foundations and corporations from this area had sent some $8 million to that fund. Some companies and charities directed additional funds to New York rescue and rehabilitation by their own routes.

This instinctive caring and spontaneous help reflected the best in people's character. But it must not be allowed to blunt the same instincts for less spectacular and ever-present needs closer to home, the small-scale emergencies and individual tragedies that are always with us.

The United Way campaign for pledges to support the community safety net of health and human services in Baltimore City and Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Carroll, Harford and Howard counties, with payroll deductions, is more essential than ever.

There are large and small ways that people can help defeat the terrorists, by making our economy hum and our society work and our lives reflect inner riches, no matter what.

And one very major way is to make this year's United Way campaign, in the midst of alarm, mobilization and emergency, overshoot its target by a very healthy amount.

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