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      Do your part without parting with your time

      Because of Michigan's high unemployment rate and less-than-favorable economic conditions, more families than ever before are in need of assistance. As a result, the United Way of Marquette County is encouraging Michigan residents to "check off" for the United Way Fund.

      Sue Minckler, Campaign Coordinator for the United Way of Marquette County, said, "When people are filing for their taxes on form 4642, they can check a box for the United Way Fund, and then they can indicate the amount. They can choose $5 or $10 and check those boxes, or there's a box they can fill in any amount they want to go toward the fund for emergency services."

      The emergency services fund helps Michigan families in need acquire basics, such as food, shelter, and clothing.

      "We're one of seven choices for funding that they (the donor) can send a donation to, but I believe we're the only one that stays right in their community. The rest are statewide organizations," said Minckler.

      The United Way of Marquette County helped fund the Room at the Inn, which housed over 107 homeless people last year.

      Like most organizations, the United Way of Marquette County is experiencing increases in requests for funding and services from nonprofit organizations.

      However, fewer people have been able to make donations, which go to the nonprofit organizations, so fundraising has been a struggle.

      Last year, the United Way of Marquette County was able to collect $911, which is a severe decrease from the previous year, when $2,802 was collected and used to aid the homeless and others in emergency situations.

      One of the nonprofit organizations that benefited from the United Way of Marquette County donations was Lutheran Social Services. Their program, Welcome Home, uses the funds to help out homeless families.

      Sarah Fogaroli, Welcome Home Program Coordinator for Lutheran Social Services, said, "The Welcome Home Program is the only program in Marquette that provides transitional living to families and so it's a very, very important program that we have here, and we want to do everything we can to keep it."

      Food and clothing for two households and ten tents as summer shelter for homeless adults were purchased with the donations from last year. Pairs of good quality gloves were also purchased to give to those in need who are outside most of the time during the winter.

      So if you haven't filed your 2012 tax forms yet, make sure you check off for The United Way Fund on form 4642. You'll be helping the homeless and others in emergency situations in Marquette County in a quick and easy way.