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We have suddenly been thrown into a new world. Preparations for the final stretch of fundraising for the annual United Way campaign in the early weeks of March quickly shifted to current needs and whether we can anticipate what those might be in May, July or next March. United Way has served Garrett County for twenty years providing program and service dollars to organizations in the community for education, health and financial stability.

On Friday, March 20, members of the Board of Directors, including Larry Tichnell representing Garrett County, addressed these issues and made decisions to make dollars available immediately to help our partner organizations now. Organizations faced with financial challenges due to COVID-19 have been encouraged to turn to United Way to seek emergency funding that will ensure individuals can continue to be served. Nonprofit organizations in Garrett County are encouraged to visit www.cuw.org and visit the COVID-19 links to see what resources exist.

The organization has also created an emergency fund to accept donations with 100% of funds raised going to serve current needs, such as food, medications, childcare services for essential employees, and more. Those wishing to give to this fund can do so online through the COVID-19 links on cuw.org or can text COVIDCUW to 44-321. Checks will also be accepted and can be sent to the PO Box in Oakland (#394).

Dollars for programs and services beginning July 1 have been raised by United Way in Garrett County and there remains an opportunity to give to this annual fundraiser, which directly supports households in the county. What are we asking you to give to and why? United Way puts dollars into programs to create opportunities that otherwise wouldn’t exist. When dollars are made available to alleviate costs of medications, people can put food on their table or pay for their housing. When dollars are accessible to reduce the costs of basic needs, people can lift themselves up and focus on making lasting changes for a healthy life. As an example:

$150 ensures a month of food to an individual plus a daily well-check;

$175 purchases at least five life-saving prescription medications.

Any amount is graciously accepted and we are happy to report that United Way has successfully advocated for implantation of the CARES Act, which creates a $300 non-itemizer deduction for 2020. While this specific deduction is only available for those who do not itemize, donors who do are still eligible for existing charitable deductions. This applies only to financial donations and not in-kind.

These are challenging times. We do not know what we are facing in the months ahead, but we do know there are people who live among us needing help today and who will need help tomorrow. United Way is prepared to help through our partner organizations no matter what we are facing, and we cannot do that without the generosity of those who have already given. We want to take this opportunity to thank them:

Enterprise, GCC Tech, Wal-Mart, Oakland Rotary, Grantsville Lions Club, Carl Belt, Inc., Mountaineer Log & Siding, the Board of Education (teachers and staff), Clear Mountain Bank, First United Bank, UPMC – Western MD, CareFirst, CBIZ, Community Action, Columbia Gas, Spectra and First Energy – all who give employees an opportunity to give where they live. Some of these businesses match a percentage of those gifts from employees. Dozens of individuals, property owners, and retirees use United Way as one of their channels to keep dollars in Garrett County.

If you or your business would like to help address our present or our future needs, we stand ready to accept any amount you can give. Donations can be made via check and mailed to PO Box 394, Oakland, MD 21550 or online directly at http://cuw.org/garrett/; all gifts are tax-deductible. For questions, please email juli@cuw.org or call 301-722-2700. For real-time updates and information about our work, we can be found on Facebook at County United Way.

Any individual seeking information for basic needs is urged to contact 2-1-1 to speak to a representative who can provide directions for local resources. As isolation can cause challenges with mental health, the hotline can also be used as a source for help if faced with psychological needs and as a suicide hotline.

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