As Published in the Northwest Herald on October 2, 2016

The United Way of Greater McHenry County recently kicked off its fundraising hoping to raise about $150,000 more than the little more than $1 million the agency collected last year.

It’s an aggressive goal, and we wish them much success. We’d also urge McHenry County residents who are in a position to do so to support the United Way campaign.

Many larger employers across McHenry County allow employees to donate a portion of their earnings directly to United Way, but there are many other ways to give. Employees of the Northwest Herald have been contributors to the campaign each year.

While the campaign goal is aggressive, it’s not even close to unattainable. In fact, if every employee in McHenry County donated just a dollar a week, the United Way would raise more than $7 million.

There’s not a great deal we can control from within McHenry County about where Illinois’ dwindling tax dollars go. We can advocate and hope for the best, but many social service agencies need those dollars, and the state often neglects to pay its bills.

The great thing about dollars donated to United Way is that money never leaves McHenry County and is used to fund more than 50 specific programs provided by 27 different local social service agencies. Those agencies include Pioneer Center for Human Services, Family Health Partnership Clinic, Catholic Charities, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Turning Point and many others that fill valuable needs across our communities.

While few question the value member agencies provide, the United Way doesn’t just hand over blank checks to any of them. There is an appropriate level of scrutiny that often is unmatched in government, for example.

Proponents of limited government also should be proponents of donating to nonprofit organizations to help fill the gaps of community needs where government can’t, won’t or shouldn’t. Needs don’t go away, whether tax dollars are addressing them or not. McHenry County residents know that and typically are generous, as anyone who regularly attends charity functions knows. A community that doesn’t address its needs reaps what it sows.

For information on the United Way Campaign, visit http://uwmchenry.org/ or call 815-363-1377.