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Mon Valley United Way will not add 15 percent

| Wednesday, Aug. 20, 2003

MONESSEN - The executive director of the Mon Valley United Way promised there will be no changes in the way the charitable agency distributes local designated gifts in the coming year.

Phil Sparacella made that statement in the wake of the United Way of Allegheny County announcement that it would take a 15 percent cut of designated gifts to cover overhead costs.

Sparacella said his organization is not required to adopt or adhere to decisions made by other United Way chapters.

"Every United Way is its own entity," Sparacella said.

"We will not do that with our agencies that we support locally."

Bob De Witt, spokesman for the Allegheny County United Way, said that the agency weighed the possibility of a backlash by donors before it approved the 15 percent fee on specific contributions.

"We do realize some people may choose not to give through United Way," De Witt said. "But we would urge them to carefully consider the importance of giving to us to make the United Way strong and viable."

Sparacella noted that the local United Way campaign is both strong and viable, saying the agency exceeded its 2002-03 campaign goal.

"Considering everything, I think we did very well," Sparacella said. " ... We collected approximately $364,000."

Sparacella said the Mon Valley agency will kick off its 2003-04 campaign Sept. 2, adding he is encouraged by the agency's prospects for the coming year.

"So far, things have been pretty positive," he said.

Sparacella said that while the Mon Valley United Way's average overhead cost is approximately 15 percent, he emphasized that the figure does not include local designated gifts.

"There is nothing taken out of gifts made to local agencies that we support," Sparacella said. "If people designate money to a local charity, that money goes there 100 percent.

"Now, if money is designated to a charity like the Heart Association, then there is an amount deducted for costs because there is some overhead there."

The Mon Valley United Way supports charities throughout the tri-county Mid-Mon Valley area.

Bill Zlatos of the Tribune-Review News Service contributed to this story.

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