Google companies

United Way Licking County unable to get donations from biggest companies

NEWARK – United Way of Licking County may have to meet its annual fundraising goal again without some of the major employers in western Licking County.

Deb Dingus, executive director of the United Way of Licking County, told Licking County commissioners last week that Amazon, Facebook, Google and Intel had not contributed to a campaign since setting up shop in the county. Intel is new to the county this year, but the others have been through a few United Way campaigns.

“We haven’t seen anything coming back from any of the big tech industries in this county,” Dingus said. “We haven’t received a penny from Google. Not a penny from Facebook. Not a dime from Amazon. Not a penny from Intel.

“And yet, we have a lot of tax breaks. And the scale of the needs continues to grow in the department.

United Way of Licking County’s stated mission is to improve lives by uniting the community, fighting for those in need of a voice. United Way helps fund 23 programs, helping children, the poor, people with addiction or mental health issues, the elderly and the homeless.

The campaign goal this year is $1.76 million, which Dingus says is similar to last year.

“We have issues,” Dingus said. “We have growing pains. We had problems before the pandemic. We need the support of our elected officials to mobilize around these issues. And we need the support of our biggest industries in this county to support these issues.

“We have needs right now and the services we provide are there to support the good things governments are already doing in our county. But the government cannot do everything. Our companies cannot do everything. United Way has been here for 90 years to help meet the county’s critical needs and issues.

The COVID pandemic made fundraising more difficult as employees worked from home. United Way is looking to get employers and employees back into the habit of donating to the campaign, which officially kicked off last week with its annual Week of Caring.

Intel spokeswoman Linda Qian said, “Intel places great importance on being an asset to our communities around the world. As our presence in Ohio grows, the local community will feel the full weight of this commitment in many ways, including support for important local programs and the generous donation of time and expertise. of our employees.”

Intel recently sponsored the annual Licking County River Gathering and donated to United Way elsewhere, she said.

“As we continue to build, we will show ourselves,” Qian said. “United Way has never asked us for money in Licking County, so we’re really surprised by that (comment).”

Amazon announced its move to Licking County in November 2015. The company says it’s a misconception to claim it doesn’t contribute to local communities because it hasn’t donated to a single organization. Amazon says it has contributed to 48 Ohio organizations, many in Licking County, but many outside the county.

Amazon spokesperson Andre Woodson said, “We are proud of our long history of giving back to the Licking County community and reinforcing our commitment to making a positive and lasting impact. Since 2020, Amazon’s Etna fulfillment center has worked side-by-side with community partners to donate more than $3 million to local nonprofits through our giving program, initiatives sponsorship, volunteer activations and other underfunded charities.

Facebook announced it would build in New Albany in 2017 and held a groundbreaking ceremony in February 2020. Facebook made grants available to the Johnstown-Monroe and Licking Heights school districts.

The Licking County government, which has always supported United Way, has also received some criticism, but from within. Licking County Commissioner Tim Bubb said it was not acceptable that United Way could not even find out who the county’s United Way campaign leader was this year.

“I’m really concerned when we say we don’t even know who the Licking County government contact is or who is running our campaign,” Bubb said. “Someone should work on this. Seriously. We have 1,000 employees. There needs to be awareness. There needs to be things on our bulletin boards and our website and that kind of stuff.

Heath Mayor Mark Johns, Co-Chair of the Campaign’s Government Division with Pataskala Town Administrator Tim Hickin, said: “We have a lot of need in this community. We have good people and good agencies working to try to resolve the issues. “But, at the end of the day, if you don’t have the money, you can’t solve the problems. We have to focus on that, I think, and do what we can.”

Tabby Hahn, a financial adviser at Edward Jones in Heath, is United Way’s campaign chair this year. She urged people to help address the community’s most critical needs, such as behavioral health and poverty, by helping children and families.

“When I think about United Way of Licking County and the impact on our local community, it always comes down to people,” Hahn said. “Generations of community members have voluntarily dedicated their time, financial resources and energy to helping their neighbors, some they know, but most they don’t.

“I’ve been fortunate that my family and our company have always valued this commitment to serving others. We all want a strong and thriving community and it will take all of us building on that goal.”

Dingus said she hopes every company and every employee considers what contribution they can make.

“Anything you, or anyone, could do to encourage a general donation to the United Way,” Dingus said. “It’s about letting every employee know that our county is growing and the scale of the issues we need to solve are growing, so we need everyone to say, ‘I can help.’

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