As a community, we’ve long prided ourselves on our willingness to help friends or neighbors, to meet whatever needs arise. It hasn’t mattered whether the needs stemmed from a natural disaster, a family crisis or the quiet poverty that afflicts more of our neighbors than we might care to admit.
We’ve helped by joining forces, each of us doing what we can. Some of us contribute our skills and our time. Others might donate goods — maybe not new furniture but still serviceable. And yet others give money, confident that it will be spent in ways that truly help people.
We do many of these things through the United Way of Riley County, an association of local residents performing countless services to help people in all manner of circumstances. Some of these people work multiple minimum-wage jobs and can’t find time to help their children with their studies. Others have lost their jobs or lost their homes or simply lost their way. The fact that the recession is supposed to have ended is small consolation to folks who can’t find a job — or at least one that pays them enough to pay their bills. Others in our community need more emotional support than financial support.
Through 20 programs involving a number of local and regional agencies, the United Way of Riley County strives to help. It does so by addressing issues associated primarily with health, education and income.
The participating agencies are all well respected. They include ATA Bus, Big Brothers and Big Sisters, the Boys and Girls Club of Manhattan, the Community Health Ministry, the Crisis Center, the Flint Hills Community Clinic, Housing and Credit Counseling, Kansas Legal Services, the Manhattan Emergency Shelter Inc., RSVP, Schools of Hope, Shepherd’s Crossing and Sunflower CASA Project Inc.
They make the most of their dollars, in part through volunteers whose contributions include tutoring, running errands, handling office chores and providing counseling. The number of quiet miracles performed is nothing if not impressive.
But they need help — your help. The United Way is about 60 percent of the way to its goal of $500,000. Reaching it won’t be easy. But it won’t be any more difficult than ignoring the needs of local individuals and families who, often through no fault of their own, are lonely, hungry, depressed, cold and out of work.
We’re not asking you to give until it hurts. Please just give enough so that someone else — someone you might even know — hurts a little less.