Saturday will be the Lycoming County United Way’s annual Day of Caring. It is a day in which volunteers perform various types of needed work at many of the United Way’s member agencies’ facilities.
The Lycoming County United Way has been in the business of caring for more than 80 years, beginning in 1922 as the Community Chest.
The origins of what would later become the Lycoming United Way occurred at a meeting in November 1921.
According to a Gazette and Bulletin article of November 1921 about 150 persons who represented contributors to and workers for various welfare agencies (they would later be called social service agencies) met to put together an organization to that would combine, into one effort, all of those agencies with financial fund drives. The result would save on duplicated effort as well as averting donor fatigue.
The idea for a Community Chest came from the example of similar organizations in Harrisburg and Cinncinnati.
The constitution from the newly formed Community Chest said in part, ” …Its purpose is to collect, hold, distribute, money and to assign any money over from time to time to social, civic, welfare and charitable organizations as may be affiliated with it…To provide a center of committees and service bureau for all social and charitable work.”
Quoting another Gazette and Bulletin article from October 21, 1930, “The formation of the Community Chest has resulted in gradually simplifying the securing of adequate public subscriptions in a combined budget for distribution to various institutions through one campaign, where formerly it was necessary for these organizations to conduct individual campaigns each year to carry on their work.”
Through the years this organizational entity has gone by a number of names including Community Chest, Red Feather, Lycoming United Fund, Lycoming United Way and finally Lycoming County United Way.
The mission, however, has always remained the same, “To provide support for voluntary, non-profit organizations, local, state or national in scope which operate to the benefit of the health, welfare and recreational areas of Lycoming County.”
In 2002, 47 agencies benefited from support from the Lycoming County United Way and residents used these services more than 112,000 times.
Lycoming County United Way’s proud tradition of service and caring continue to benefit the citizens of the county in many ways.
By Lou Hunsinger Jr., Williamsport Sun-Gazette