What if everyone in Franklin County gave just $5 to the United Way?

Kim Strubberg, Franklin County Area United Way executive director, posed that question in a story on the organization’s 2020 campaign in Wednesday’s Missourian.

This year’s campaign, like most everything else, has been upended by the coronavirus-fueled economic slowdown. The annual campaign is underway but without the benefit of robust workplace campaigns, which have been the cornerstone of past fundraising drives.

It comes as no surprise this year’s campaign is down significantly. But there are bright spots. People and companies are stepping up. Many are heeding the call for help.

Canam Steel provided a huge boost — both financially and to morale — by pledging $14,000 to the 2020 campaign in just its second year of supporting the United Way. The pledge from its 196 employees nearly tripled the donation the Washington steel manufacturer made last year.

A Canam official told The Missourian the company was fortunate it hasn’t been impacted by the pandemic as other businesses have. They were in a position to do more and the company’s employees responded.

That is a great story that deserves to be told. It speaks volumes to the volunteer spirit and generosity that is so prevalent in this area. It is an example of leadership in a time of crisis. We hope other companies that are in a position to do more respond in a similar way.   

Strubberg said many individuals are responding as well by doubling the size of their gifts from last year. People who gave $25 last year are giving $50 this year, people who donated $1,000 last year are donating $2,000.

Every increased donation helps. Strubberg said small gifts make a huge difference this year.

So back to Strubberg’s question. What if everyone in Franklin County gave just $5 to this year’s United Way campaign?

Simple. The United Way could do a lot — a whole lot — for the 53 partner agencies it serves. The United Way provides much of the financial backbone for the county’s social safety net through its partners.

Strubberg said preliminary fundraising requests from its partners are higher than requests filed last year. The pandemic has put additional stress on these nonprofits. Many are hurting right now. Some may not survive.

A donation of even $5 can help a local food pantry buy 50 pounds of food for a family struggling to put food on the table because the parents have been laid off due to the pandemic. There are more families like that this year.

Now more than ever, even a donation of just $5 is critically important to the United Way.