On Oct. 27, the President of West Chester University announced that the annual State Employee Combined Appeal (SECA) campaign, the benefits of which are donated to charitable programs nationwide, would be extended until Nov. 6, having been originally scheduled to end on Oct. 30, in order for the university to reach its goal of more than $38,260 in a fundraiser that raised $4,267,167 last year. President Greg R. Weisenstein, the new University President who was inaugurated earlier this year, appealed to WCU employees Oct. 1, asking faculty and staff to become one of the 250 state workers hoping to contribute locally in order to raise the total of $3,817,500 desired statewide.
“The annual SECA campaign is the essence of teamwork on behalf of others. and working together to serve neighbors near and far is a powerful way to express our university values.” Weisenstein said in an Oct. 1 letter to faculty and staff.
“Care enough to share” is the theme for the 30-year-old program this year. Chaired by Governor Ed Rendell, the campaign is responsible for raising over $84 million since its beginnings, benefiting over 1,400 organizations like The Maternity Care Coalition, The John F. Kennedy Center, Inc, The Lymphoma Research Foundation, The Veterans of Foreign Wars Foundation, The American Foundation for Children with AIDS and the Clean Air Council.
The extension reflects the problem the effort faces statewide, with only approximately 28 percent of the total SECA goal set reached by the end of October, a shortage that appears to be fueled by the current recession.
The money is more important than ever in the face of the current economic situation according to a letter from the governor, a sentiment that spawned the slogan this year.
“It is in times of difficulty that people show their best, and I know our caring commonwealth employees will answer the call. When each of us shares a piece of what we have, we can make it easier for everyone to endure tough times,” said Rendell.
Mirroring Rendell’s sentiments, Weisenstein said “even in this era of financial crises, all around us we see prosperous communities and stories of success. Yet many men, women, and children are not sharing in our own good fortune.”
He also went on to bring focus to problems in America, as “.one-fifth of the children under age six are living in poverty.”
As New York Times columnist Stephanie Strom reported earlier this year, the Giving USA Foundation found that charitable giving as a whole is on the decline, as 2008 saw donations drop off more that year than they had in the past five decades.
For the past three years the appeal, the only one allowed in state offices of Pennsylvania, has broken the goal set by the commonwealth.
SECA itself donated an estimated 90 cents of every dollar directly to the charities, retaining “roughly 10 percent” of proceeds to cover operational costs.
The program allows employees to give directly from their paychecks, pledge cards and other conventional means.
The money can either be directed to agencies of the employee’s choice by designating codes from one of the many participants, or dispersed proportionately to give the philanthropy greater flexibility.
Kory Dench can be reached at KD608724@wcupa.edu.