This is the time of year when our community mobilizes all of its caring power - in other words, the United Way is up and running again.
Civilization, a wise man once said, is measured by how well a society treats its neediest citizens. Thanks to the success of two local United Way chapters, the quality of life for countless needy people in our two-state area has been greatly improved - and other very worthwhile community programs for young and old alike are also well-served.
This year the Augusta-based United Way of the CSRA, serving 10 counties in Georgia and South Carolina and parts of five other counties, and the United Way of Aiken County have set their fund-raising goals: $4.2 million for the former, $2.7 million for the latter.
Last year, the CSRA chapter crossed the $4 million mark for the first time ever, while the Aiken chapter raised a record $2.9 million. Both U-Ways hope to do even better this year.
Money raised is distributed to member agencies that serve the community in many ways: health needs, job training, adult literacy, poverty relief, youth programs and more.
Nearly every social service agency of any value can count on help from the United Way. What that really means is, those programs count on you. There are two ways to help: Donate money or volunteer your time - or do both if you can afford to.
However you decide to participate in the United Way, the satisfaction comes from knowing that the agencies' resources are tailored to meet the most acute needs in your community.
The economy has been sputtering this year, so those of us with good jobs or incomes need to dig deep if the U-Way agencies are to meet their goals.
Remember, unlike taxes, local United Way revenues don't disappear into a bureaucratic void - every cent is accounted for.