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United: Pulling together

CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Although central West Virginia's historic 2014 water crisis was miserable, it had a bright facet: It demonstrated how numerous people, schools, agencies and volunteers can work together to cope with a dilemma. Every day, the news was filled with scenes of people helping people.

Particularly, we're proud of generous donors who gave $112,583 to the United Way to help workers whose jobs were crimped by the chemical pollution that wrecked the water supply for 300,000 residents.

The United Way's West Virginia Emergency Fund received special donations, and used them to sustain 625 employees who lost wages during business shutdowns. "What an outpouring of generosity by the community to help those in need," the United Way newsletter said. Bravo.

Meanwhile, we want to praise the United Way in general. It's the smartest, safest, most sensible approach to charity. Instead of enduring dozens of separate fundraising drives, the community unites in a single, consolidated, one-shot campaign supporting a wide array of agencies. Volunteers perform nearly all the work, keeping overhead costs low. Businesses cooperate by collecting pledges through payroll deductions.

It's the most honest charity, because volunteer watchdog committees oversee each member charity to ensure that donated money is spent frugally.

Currently, the lingering 2013 Central West Virginia United Way drive is in trouble. Just $1,836,000 has been donated, which is $363,000 short of the goal. If last-minute gifts don't close the gap, budgets of many worthy agencies must be curtailed.

We hope generous West Virginians step forward and meet this need -- just as they did to help laid-off victims of the water crisis.


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