The campaign doesn’t officially start until October, but the United Way of Angelina County needs your help, perhaps now more than ever before.

Agencies selected to receive United Way funds next year include nonprofit organizations that provide the most basic needs in the community. They serve thousands of people every year — people in need of what these agencies provide: food, clothing and shelter, both physically and spiritually.

The United Way Budget Committee met for several hours on Tuesday to hear reports from agencies and decide on how much to raise overall and for each agency. This year’s campaign goal is $290,000.

United Way Campaign Chair Hilary Haglund Walker said the theme of the day was how the last several months have affected the agencies and how they are shifting to meet the increased need of the community.

“This year is challenging for a lot of folks, so we had to look at the challenges that we know businesses in town are facing when we ask for their donations, but we have to balance that with what we know to be the growing need among our friends and neighbors,” Haglund Walker said.

She said that while everyone has been displaced in some way by the COVID-19 pandemic, there are a great number of individuals without the ability to work, putting challenges on them to access basic needs such as food, housing and clothing.

“There is a need, but Angelina County citizens have risen to meet that need, time and time again,” Haglund Walker said. “I’m asking them, with a full heart, to really do that this year because the need is there. We have neighbors who are suffering.

“We may not see it because we’re not seeing a lot of people right now, but you have to trust that it’s there.”

Sadly, she is correct.

Thousands of Angelina County residents lost their jobs in the coronavirus recession. While the unemployment rate is slowly declining, those statistics are still more than double what they were at this time last year.

What that really means is roughly 4,400 of our neighbors are out of work. Others have taken pay cuts to keep their jobs. On top of that, the extra $600 a week in federal unemployment benefits has expired. And for some of our friends and neighbors, the news is getting even worse: Their positions are going away forever.

“Our mission is to fill in the gap with food, shelter and clothing, most importantly,” Haglund Walker said. “A lot of the agencies we give to meet those needs in our community most directly.”

And the organization’s decision to support these groups is not one that has been made lightly.

In fact, the money given to the United Way of Angelina County is put to work here. Only 1% of the money goes to the national organization. Ninety-one cents of every dollar raised goes directly to the agencies to assist them in their missions.

Agencies selected to receive United Way funds for 2020, and the amount, include:

■ The Women’s Shelter of East Texas, $6,500

■ Angelina County Child Welfare Board, $10,000

■ Boys & Girls Club of Deep East Texas (Lufkin and Diboll), $14,000

■ The Hope Center, $9,000

■ The T.L.L. Temple Memorial Library in Diboll, $4,000

■ Angelina County Senior Citizens Center, $41,000

■ Lufkin Workshop and Opportunity Center, $4,000

■ The McMullen Memorial Library in Huntington, $4,000

■ The Salvation Army and Adult Day Care, $58,000

■ The Alcohol and Drug Abuse Council of Deep East Texas, $11,000

■ Hospice in the Pines, $9,750

■ The Katherine Sage Temple Child Care Center in Diboll, $3,500

■ United Way of Angelina County Emergency Relief, $50,000

■ United Way of Angelina County administration, campaign and office $64,750

In the coming weeks, there is a good chance someone will ask you to donate to the Angelina County United Way’s 73rd annual campaign. When that happens, we hope you will give the matter heartfelt consideration and make a donation.

If you have the opportunity to donate to the United Way through your school, business or another organization, please do so. And if no one asks, you can still send a contribution to United Way of Angelina County, P.O. Box 1764, Lufkin, TX 75901. For more information, visit unitedwayofangelinacounty.org or call 632-3203.