Opinion

Another great funding drive for United Way

The best thing about the record-setting 2015 fundraising campaign for United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley is, of course, the number of people who will be helped and the number of agencies and services that will now have the resources to help them.

(The second-best thing might be hearing the word "campaign" in a context that doesn't make us all want to crawl under our beds with our hands over our ears.)

In 2015, generous donations from businesses, civic and faith organizations and countless area individuals brought the total to almost $100,000 above its $7 million goal.

"We raised the most money ever," United Way's local president and CEO Scott Ferguson told the Ledger-Enquirer. "I can't tell you why we were so successful other than 20,000 contributors and hundreds of volunteers listening to our message. It's a testament to the community's generosity. It sounds cliche, but it's true."

United Way of the Chattahoochee Valley has a broad charitable and philanthropic footprint -- not just in terms of the diversity of services it provides (50 programs and 26 separate agencies), but also its regional reach over nine counties in two states.

Columbus Water Works President Steve Davis, chairman of the 2015 campaign, praised the hard work of volunteers and the generosity of those who gave: "I never really got a sense of how well-organized the staff and the whole community is in supporting United Way."

Something to keep in mind for this year's United Way fund drive: Those generous big-money infusions from businesses and other collective donors provide a lot of help for a lot of people who need it. But the importance of even the most modest individual donations should never be underestimated. Those add up to a lot of help for a lot of people, too.

Holding the line

The University System of Georgia Board of Regents had some very good news Tuesday for tens of thousands of Georgia college students and their families: For the first time in 14 years, tuition will not be increased at the state's 29 public colleges and universities.

The speed at which the cost of higher education has continued to soar past the general inflation rate has of course been a source of nationwide frustration and outrage for years. In Georgia, the "cushion" provided by the early years of the HOPE scholarship program in the flush economy of the 1990s threw another wrinkle into the equation.

This year's temporary "freeze" is intended to give state lawmakers time to consider legislation capping tuition hikes at the inflation rate.

It might not even be possible. But when more and more eminently qualified students are unable to attend college just because they can't afford it, that's no bargain for Georgia.

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