By SCOTT LOWERY
During a recent visit to the eye doctor for the yearly checkup, I was asked, "Does the United Way do anything special for folks at Christmas time?"
Before I could answer' another voice responded, "United Way does wonderful things for people throughout the year, not just at Christmas."
With an appreciative smile I acknowledged the welcomed endorsement but before any further dialogue could take place appointment times were called and we went our separate ways not knowing the identity of the kind testimonial speaker. However as the hustle and bustle of Christmas has now passed for another year, the words she had spoken continue to ring as loud and constant as those many bells did ushering in the coming of the season.
The brightly wrapped presents under the tree, the holiday gatherings and the excitement and anticipation that lead us all to December 25 illuminate the spirit of giving in most of us.
There are very few who can say they don't feel good about giving to or doing something for someone else. But what follows in the days after the big day leave all too many in our community dealing with the harsh reality that every day is a far cry from Christmas day.
Echoing the lady's comments, indeed "United Way does wonderful things for people throughout the year, not just at Christmas."
With thankfulness and appreciation for the kindness of our donors Lycoming County United Way actively provides funding to more than 40 human service programs throughout Lycoming County.
During the past twelve months these vital programs gave the gifts of human dignity and support to 46,379 county residents facing a variety of difficulties in their everyday lives. Working together to create lasting change these programs nurtured our children, served those with special needs, cared for people in crisis, supported our seniors and helped strengthen our families.
Following a record year in 2011 which saw the LCUW campaign raise $1,551,367, the largest campaign in our 90-year history, our Program Partners reported $1,723,311 was needed in the coming year to maintain their level of service. As Christmas passes and a new year beckons the kind contributors to this year's campaign have pushed the donation level past 1.1 million dollars.
With this year's campaign entering its final weeks another $600,000 is to be raised to continue our mission to improve the lives of those facing an everyday crises.
State and federal budget cuts have widened the gap between those who provide human services and those who are served by them.
If you have not yet done so, you can still experience the spirit of giving with a year-end gift to Lycoming County United Way.
You can be assured it will be helping others long after the Christmas season has passed.
Lowery is executive director of the Lycoming County United Way.