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Pioneer Editorial: Community does it for United Way

A generous Bemidji community came through again by raising $406,703 for the United Way of Bemidji Area.

The annual fall campaign fell short of its goal of $417,000, but still the amount raised is only 2.5 percent off that goal -- a remarkable achievement in light of being two years into a deep national recession and at a time when unemployment is in double-digit figures for Bemidji.

This year's total also fell short of last year's announced total during the November celebration of $410,105 but nearly matched the pre-recession total of $406,769 in 2007.

The bottom line with all the numbers is that the Bemidji community, struggling as it might be, still has compassion and a strong willingness to help our neighbors to the extent of missing nary a beat in funding essential programs.

Especially welcome this year is the open hearts and graciousness of our new but temporary friends - those affiliated with the Alberta Clipper and Southern Lights pipeline project. While in our community only for a short time, these workers from Enbridge and U.S. Pipeline contributed $11,756 to the United Way of Bemidji Area, funds which will continue to help local residents long after the pipeline workers have left. Their generosity, however, will not be forgotten and fittingly, the United Way awarded representatives with its Director's Award of Excellence.

Also key are the 75 local businesses that ran and completed United Way internal workplace campaigns. Many of them were awarded this week with Director's Awards for their efforts and of their employees' efforts.

The money raised will go a long way in supporting many organizations that help our friends and neighbors and the children of our community. Without that support, our community would be that much more troubled. The Bemidji community's willingness to reach out and share is legion, and this fall's campaign provides another example of that generosity.

Well done!