The annual campaign for the United Way of Aiken County kicked off on Friday, with a $2.43 million goal to raise money to support more than 30 local service agencies.

The goal is conservative, considering that last year’s campaign raised more than $2.74 million. With that in mind, we are confident the volunteers dedicated to the campaign will exceed the goal and perhaps surpass the 2011 total.

The Aiken Standard urges you to consider making a gift to the United Way this year. Without funds from the United Way, thousands of residents in need would do without.

Organization like the Child Advocacy Center of Aiken County struggle every year.

“We struggle for funding every year and couldn’t do it without them,” Executive Director Gayle Lofgren said during the kickoff luncheon.

“We saw 302 children last year, with 70 percent having been sexually abused and the other 30 percent physically abused. With only one in 10 children reporting abuse, there could be many, many more than that.”

In this struggling economy, more people need help. Without it, people will suffer.

The advantage of giving to the United Way is that you can be sure your donation being used as intended. Administrative costs are low, needs are assessed methodically, and the oversight from the community is strong.

If thousands of us give just a few dollars, the amount to help others grows to an amount that can really make a difference.

Over the next several weeks, you will most likely see United Way volunteers soliciting donations and pledges. They will be speaking at participating businesses and in the community. They are enthusiastic and honored to be a part of something that touches so many.

Be a part of the solution. Dig a little deeper in your wallet this year and give to the United Way. You’ll be glad you did.