Many Montevideo residents are familiar with the United Way sign in plain sight as they turn toward main street after heading down the Third Street hill. One graphic or another — this year a simple depiction of the United Way logo — shows how far along the United Way has come toward their goals.


Many Montevideo residents are familiar with the United Way sign in plain sight as they turn toward main street after heading down the Third Street hill. One graphic or another — this year a simple depiction of the United Way logo — shows how far along the United Way has come toward their goals.

The United Way is a charitable organization that raises money and donates it back to the community it raises it from, using an application process and a board of directors to help figure out what organizations can most and best use the money.

This year, the United Way set the same goal as last year: $30,000.

“Our goal is aggressive,”?said Leon Benson, United Way’s chairman of the board. “Do I?think we’ll hit $30,000??Probably not. It was $25,000 for years and we just boosted it up last year.”

Realistically, he says, United Way is likely to raise around $23,000 to $25,000; he estimates that as of Dec. 23 they raised between 50 and 60 percent of that - the last count was at the end of November, at which time they had raised $12,000.

While the end of the year is fast approaching, Benson explained that they often see a large push in donations toward the end, as final contributions are sent in from the latter end of their pledge drive that began in October.

“We have a list of previous people and businesses who have contributed in the past and we’ll give them a call and see if they want to donate,”?Benson explained. “That ends up generating a good amount.”

Benson explained that usually the United Way can count on receiving a certain amount from various businesses. He mentioned that they are excited to work with Coborn’s.

“As a corporation, United Way is one of their big deals,”?Benson said. “The thing that really varies each year is the businesses who do the extra stuff.”

Jennie-O and the school are both sources that Benson mentioned donate a lot each year, with amounts varying based on the success of their fund drives.

Aside from contributions of businesses, local organizations and the fund drive, Benson said there are other ways people can contribute as well. They recently began accepting online donations, and others have opted to have a certain amount taken from their paycheck.

Once all the money is collected and counted, United Way will take time to figure out where the money goes.

“We have collected grant applications and these are filled out by organizations that seek money from the Montevideo area United Way. They list how much they have received in the past, how much they would like to receive right now and they also describe what they do for the area ... we’re all about giving only to organizations that service the Montevideo area. We want to keep it as local as possible,”?Benson said.

All of the applications have already been selected and, at an upcoming meeting, they will be handed out to the board of directors for consideration.

In January, the directors will return with the applications and go through them one by one to see what the needs of the applicants are and how many people they serve.

“The need to continue to contribute is still there,”?Benson said, and the United Way will continue to try and facilitate that process.