The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

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March 14, 2013

United Way plans database forums: Project would unify aid to needy

— Many local churches and nonprofit organizations provide similar charitable services to people in need during the holiday season.

Among those that participated in a recent United Way of the Laurel Highlands survey, the vast majority – 93 percent of 43 respondents – felt they could benefit from creation of an online central database that lists the names of families looking for help.

Because of the overwhelming support for the idea, the local United Way has decided to host two forums for interested organizations.

The first will take place Wednesday at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College’s Richland campus. A similar meeting will be held at Somerset Community Hospital on Thursday. Both are scheduled to begin at 9 a.m. and are open to the public.

“One of the main roles of our United Way in the community is to serve as a convener, bringing people and organizations together to identify needs, and then working together to seek solutions,” chapter President Bill McKinney said.

“We have arranged discussion forums in both Cambia and Somerset counties, for the convenience of the participants, which will result in a unified direction benefiting families who need assistance. All results and information will be shared with the community.”

If the database is created, needy families and individuals would be able to register. The secure information then would made be available to participating organizations that collect and distribute holiday-related items such as toys and food.

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