Originally created 09/22/00

United Ways in area continue Scout aid



The United Way of the CSRA and the United Way of Aiken County have no plans to cut off funding of the Georgia-Carolina Boy Scout Council, despite rumors that are causing a flood of phone calls to the United Way offices.

"Every United Way is a local United Way," said Jo Maypole, president of the United Way of the CSRA. "Because eight United Ways made a decision (against continuing to fund their own Boy Scout councils), it has no effect on us."

The Georgia-Carolina Boy Scout Council received more than $165,000 from the United Way of the CSRA from its 1999 campaign and $60,000 from the United Way of Aiken County.

Eight United Way groups in California, New Mexico, New Jersey and Rhode Island have decided to stop supporting the Boy Scouts in their area in response to the recent Supreme Court decision upholding the Scouts' policy to ban gays as leaders.

Money raised in the Augusta and Aiken areas stays here and is distributed to more than 50 organizations on both sides of the Savannah River, said Mrs. Maypole and Aiken United Way President Michael Williamson.

Committees of volunteers determine which organizations receive funding and how much money goes to each.

Mr. Williamson said his volunteers feel the Boy Scouts provide valuable character and youth programs.

"Our intention is in making sure children, who don't have accessibility to scouting because of financial reasons, can have access," he said.

Officials with both United Ways have gotten phone calls from Boy Scout supporters threatening to withhold contributions.

"If people take away their funding from this community, it doesn't affect any other community in the country. It affects the programs and services in our area," Mrs. Maypole said.

United Way chapters in Augusta and Aiken provide money to organizations that help needy children and elderly, abused people and those who have experienced hardship because of a housefire or flood.

Georgia-Carolina Boy Scout officials said the organization has a good relationship with the United Ways in the community.

"I want the people who support the Boy Scouts of America to support the United Way," said Bill Lesshafft, scout executive for the Georgia-Carolina Boy Scouts and member of the United Way campaign cabinet.

Both local United Way chapters are in the midst of capital fund-raising campaigns.

Mr. Williamson said people can designate which United Way organization receives their funding. People who do not wish their contributions to go to the Boy Scouts can designate them to another agency the United Way serves.

For more information, call the United Way of the CSRA at 724-5544 or the United Way of Aiken County at (803) 648-8331.

Reach Charmain Z. Brackett at (803) 441-6927.