THE UNITED WAY of Central Maryland has kicked off its annual fall campaign. Carroll residents need to contribute to this year's campaign because the contributions made in this county end up supporting agencies and services that benefit county residents.
Last year, United Way of Central Maryland invested $899,735 in health and human services for Carroll residents, a 50 percent increase over the amount the county received in 1994. Last year alone, 53,734 people received services from United Way agencies.
While Carroll is a relatively affluent county, it is also home to hundreds of poor families. Last year, shelters housed 536 homeless people. Half of Carroll's homeless population are families; a third are children. Due to a lack of room and personnel, 169 people were turned away.
The need is as great as ever. The number of people at Carroll soup kitchens has been increasing this year. Human Services Program of Carroll County, which runs the county's homeless shelters, was one of the local community service agencies that received grants last year from the United Way of Central Maryland.
United Way agencies don't just take care of the poor. Many of these agencies also provide services for middle-class families with special needs. With more than 18,590 Carroll residents older than 60, there is substantial demand for senior citizen services. Meals on Wheels is one of the United Way agencies that helps this county's seniors.
United Way has also begun a special Community Initiatives program that is designed to support programs such as mentoring at-risk children; providing emergency short-term respite care for disabled and the elderly; allowing educational enrichment for children, and helping new parents develop the skills necessarily to raise a child.
Despite an improving economy, problems of homelessness, poverty, illiteracy, child abuse, inadequate health care, housebound senior citizens and neglected children are prevalent. By giving to the United Way, Carroll residents will ensure that people who need these services and help will continue to receive them. Donating to the United Way is one of the most effective methods for ensuring that local gifts will be well spent.