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Help United Way aid people in need

We realize you’re busy — vacation season is winding down and back-to-school shopping is about to begin — but we hope you will find a little extra time to help the United Way of Denton County.

Officials recently kicked off the agency’s 2014 fundraising campaign, and we urge area residents to be generous in their support.

Last year’s campaign raised more than $2.2 million, and officials hope to meet or exceed that amount with this year’s campaign.

We realize that a lot of you donate through your employers. Denton County is blessed with many companies that encourage their staff members to support United Way. Fundraising drives at some of these firms have become a tradition.

Others have been regular supporters of the agency and its work on an individual basis, making financial donations and volunteering to help out at one of the many United Way partner agencies that serve our community.

Some of you took part in the first United Way of Denton County Day of Action, which was held in June and encouraged area residents to help with various service projects and product drives.

These efforts benefited agencies including The Arc of Denton County, Big Brothers Big Sisters Lone Star, CASA of Denton County, Denton County Friends of the Family and Giving HOPE Inc., helping supply them with backpacks, school supplies, nonperishable food, paper products and other needed items.

If you are a regular United Way supporter, we encourage you to continue your efforts this year, and if you haven’t donated in the past, we hope you will consider doing so. A lot of critical programs depend on the United Way fundraising campaign to serve their clients, and odds are that someone you know or love has been touched in one way or another.

Each dollar given to United Way of Denton County helps change lives for the better right here at home. You can be confident that your contributions will help your neighbors.

That’s one of the things we like most about the United Way, and a key reason that the agency has been so effective through the years.

Another secret to the United Way’s success is that it encourages people to be self-reliant. Instead of handouts, the United Way funds vital community programs that help people get back on their feet financially and find a more meaningful place in life.

Take the United Way’s Income Tax Assistance program, for example. More than $1 million went back into the bank accounts of 609 Denton County families after United Way volunteers helped them complete their federal tax returns last spring.

This was the second consecutive year that the United Way of Denton County’s Volunteer Income Tax Assistance program helped return more than $1 million to low and moderately low income individuals and families. The program has been operating for seven years.

Local volunteers helped clients complete their returns and provided tips to help them get a head start on preparing for next tax season.

Based on what the National Society of Accountants estimates the average Texan pays for preparing a simple tax return — $242 for a Form 1040 and itemized deductions — the volunteers saved Denton County households another $147,378 by preparing the returns for free.

Volunteers are always needed to help with the tax program, and you don’t have to be an accountant to provide a valuable service. All that’s required is a passion to help people.

You can learn more about the United Way of Denton County at