United Way of Loudon County desperately needs community help with this year’s fundraising campaign.

The goal of $450,000 mirrors the 2019 target.

Judy Fenton, local executive director, said the campaign is moving forward but the challenges of 2020 present obstacles.

“This still remains a stretch goal,” Fenton said an email correspondence. “Yes, it remains a very challenging year for nonprofits. This is not just due to the difficulty of raising funding, but also providing services while protecting those they serve, their employees and their volunteers from COVID. Many have thought outside the box, but in order to do this they may have had to expend more funds than they had budgeted for during the year.

“Some campaigns report that they are even or slightly behind where they were last year, which I think is positive,” she added. “We should probably get several reports by the end of January. In a year such as this, I would hate to speculate on any of the results.”

United Way hasn’t been able to host normal fundraisers due to health concerns, which makes community donations all that more important.

Events account for $15,000-$20,000 of the annual campaign.

“Despite the difficulties presented this year, things have been positive with both individuals and companies,” Fenton said. “Many individuals have increased their gifts. Companies found new ways to run their campaign virtually. Though challenging these virtual campaigns worked and kept employees engaged with our community.

“... We could not raise the funding needed for our community without the help of individuals and our company partners,” she added. “They are what make our community a great place to live. Without their help UWLC and our partners could not meet the needs of those facing life’s most challenging times. Plus, we would not be able to respond to the physical, emotional and financial implications of COVID-19.”

Tellico Village has for years been a constant big contributor to the county campaign, but this year’s total is down.

Richard Kolasheski, steering committee member, said as of the end of December about $55,000 of a $100,000 goal had been raised. Last year’s same goal was missed by $14,000.

Because of the “slow pace,” Kolasheski expects the campaign to continue through January.

“We are bedeviled by a couple of factors, which are inhibiting donations,” he said in an email correspondence. “The first, of course, is the societal and economic impact of the COVID pandemic. The other is the competition for charitable donations in the Village from two organizations — the Tellico Village Foundation and Our PLACE. The latter is a particular problem because residents of the Village see a need for such a facility for themselves. Another factor is the change in the tax laws, which reduced the value of itemizing deductions.”

Kolasheski wasn’t optimistic about hitting the $100,000 goal.

“We have not held any events because of the restrictions imposed by the pandemic,” he said. “All our outreach has been via the various social and other media available to us in the Village. The residents of Tellico Village are generally more affluent than their neighbors in Loudon County so hopefully after Christmas we will do some publicity aimed at getting them to recognize this fact and donate to help others who have been really impacted by the pandemic with job loss and other economic disruptions.”

Checks can be made out to United Way of Loudon County, P.O. Box 145, Lenoir City, TN 37771.

“Now, more than ever, UWLC needs the community’s support to help us do what we do best,” Fenton said. “That is help our community respond, recover, rebuild and reimagine for the long term. A gift of any size makes a huge difference in so many lives.”

Mary Harding, board chairwoman, believes the community has a “volunteer spirit.”

“There are so many causes and needs that pull at everyone’s heart strings,” Harding said in an email correspondence. “At the end of the day, our folks know that UWLC can ensure that these causes are addressed. We are very thankful to all who contribute to United Way.”