United Way

Past Lake Martin Area United Way Kickoffs have included booths of the agencies funded by the United Way. This year, the kickoff is virtual and the agencies will be represented through videos.

Fundraising for the Lake Martin Area United Way will look a little different this year.

COVID-19 has forced executive director Sharon Fuller and the United Way board to change things up. The traditional annual kickoff with all the agencies is not possible this year.

“Everything we have done traditionally, we are not doing,” Fuller said. “We are having to think outside the box. I tried my best to come up with alternatives for an in-person kickoff. I came up with some cute ideas but ultimately we decided on a virtual kickoff.”

Last year’s campaign, “Roads to a Better Future,” had a goal of $535,000 and raised $556,340 for the Lake Martin Area United Way’s 27 agencies. Fuller said the theme for this year’s fundraising campaign is “Together We Can Make a Difference” but unlike previous campaigns, this year has no goal.

“I do expect pledges to be lower because several companies were shutdown at some point during the pandemic,” Fuller said. “It will be tough to raise funds. A lot of people are still hurting.”

Fuller said many of the United Ways across Alabama are going without goals in their campaigns. Fuller is hopeful the people of the Tallapoosa and Coosa counties will come through and knows there are donors who will support the United Way through tough times to the best of their abilities.

“I have a strong leadership society,” Fuller said. “They are the backbone. Those people who can give have been giving. They represent about half of the campaign normally. We are so blessed.”

The fashion show and quail fry, which have helped raise an average of $50,000 per year in the past, had to be canceled.

“They have pushed us over the top sometimes in the past,” Fuller said. “We won’t have that this year. We hope we can still have the Denim and Diamonds Ball. It is late enough in the campaign and we are hopeful.”

The virtual campaign kickoff will be 7 a.m. Tuesday with an appearance and video on “The Front Porch” with a call-in by campaign chair Nancy Ammons. To help keep interest in the campaign, Fuller said drawings for doorprizes will be held at noon every Friday on the Lake Martin Area United Way Facebook page. Videos of the agencies the United Way supports will be made available on the page too. It is to help garner support for the campaign as Fuller and agency representatives are having to change their typical presentations to businesses due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“If the businesses will let us come in, we will,” Fuller said. “It will depend on if they allow visitors or not.”

The videos will also be used in place of agency representatives visiting area businesses telling their stories. Another aid to the campaign is area business leaders are also affiliated with the Lake Martin Area United Way.

“We have board members from area businesses we can depend on to help,” Fuller said. “We give them the materials they need and they are capable of sharing the importance of giving.”

Fuller said many nonprofits are struggling with the pandemic including United Way. She said she understands individuals are struggling too but is still pleading to all for support.

“Of all the years to give to the United Way, this is the year,” Fuller said. “We need the help. We are trying to meet the needs of the community.”

Cliff Williams is a staff writer for Tallapoosa Publishers.