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St Louis News

January 7, 2010 by USA Post 

St Louis News:Despite a depressed economy, giving to the United Way’s 100 Neediest Cases campaign has remained steady as donation efforts begin to wind down for the season.

The campaign thus far has raised approximately $1.25 million in cash contributions. Vanessa Wayne, director of the campaign for the United Way of Greater St. Louis, said she expects the campaign to hit its $1.3 million goal.

“I am pleasantly surprised, but not really,” she said. “I think that one of the consistent things about the St. Louis community is that they’ve always come through. Not just with 100 Neediest, but with the United Way. They seem to get that there’s a need.”

The 100 Neediest Cases campaign began in 1922 as a means of helping the community during the holiday season. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has been publishing profiles of the 100 Neediest Cases for more than five decades.

“This truly is an amazing gift for the needy in our community, especially given the difficult economy,” said Arnie Robbins, editor of the Post-Dispatch. “Once again, St. Louisans have gone above and beyond, and we thank you all for your generosity.”

The $1.25 million in cash donations does not include the hundreds of gifts and services given to families by the community. Wayne said those items include furniture, bikes, computers, gift cards, washers and dryers and even cars.

She said it’s impossible to place a value on those contributions because they go directly to families in need.

“We’ve never been able to find a way to calculate that,” she said. “There has to be hundreds of thousands of dollars in donated gifts alone.”

The giving this season ranged from small private contributions to large corporate campaigns netting thousands of dollars. College students at Washington University again adopted several families, hosting a wrapping party to prepare the gifts for donation. A pizzeria donated a portion of a day’s proceeds to the effort. Another company canceled its annual holiday party to adopt a family instead.

This year’s 100 Neediest campaign kicked off in the Post-Dispatch on Nov. 15, with the last case published on Dec. 21. Donations to the campaign and to the United Way are still being accepted until the end of this month.

Readers were asked to adopt one of the 100 cases profiled in the paper, providing gifts and money for those in need. All 100 cases were adopted this year, Wayne said.

But it reality, far more families were helped. In total, the campaign seeks to help 14,000 individuals and families. Wayne said 10 percent of those families were adopted this year. Beyond that, the $1.25 million in cash allowed all 14,000 families to receive a check.

“The fact that we didn’t get below any of those numbers in such a critical, crucial year is amazing,” Wayne said.

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