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United Way St. Croix Valley, like many non-profit groups, is facing a challenge in the months ahead.

The organization's annual campaign kick-off event last week happened to coincide with some of the worst economic news in the U.S. in years.

With financial institutions being bailed out and unemployment climbing, local United Way fund-raising volunteers have set an ambitious goal. They hope to raise the same amount of funding as last year -- about $1.175 million. It's not often that the group's goals remains stagnant, but it's understandable this year.

According to United Way Campaign Chairman Jim Dahl, Houlton, officials decided that the current economy could make achieving their goal difficult.

Trouble is, even more people are using the services provided by the United Way or funded through the organization's campaign efforts.

With the need for help growing, it will be a challenge for United Way and the other groups it funds to stretch the available dollars.

Still, campaign organizers wanted to be realistic with their goal. They wanted to set a high-water mark that will pose a challenge, yet be attainable.

So now they're appealing to local donors, who have been generous in the past, to dig deep for this year's effort.

It's admittedly a tough sell, when economic factors are swirling in everyone's head. But the current downturn presents an opportunity for donors to show their true colors.

When the United Way materials reach your workplace or home, be as generous as possible when filling out that check.

The programs that benefit from your donation help our county and local communities thrive and help families stay together.

It's a worthwhile investment that impacts your friends, neighbors, co-workers and more.