The United Way of the North Shore is launching its annual campaign to support community services with a goal of raising $1 million locally.

United Way officials say that despite the North Shore’s affluent reputation, the area is not immune to the current economic crisis. Food pantries throughout the region have seen demand reach unprecedented levels. Pockets of homelessness, especially in Evanston, are growing rapidly, the agency says. And rising unemployment, combined with a depressed real estate market, negatively impacts many North Shore communities.

As the largest non-government funder of health and human services, United Way officials say the group does what no single organization alone can do to address the key issues people face around income, education and health. However, the programs and charities funded by United Way are serving more clients with fewer resources.

“We hope that residents in each of our North Shore communities consider increasing their financial support to United Way,” said John Ropiequet, UWNS board of directors president. “The time to give has never been greater. While we can’t eradicate all of the need in our area, we can certainly make a difference.”

Pledges can be made online or by calling the United Way  office at (847) 999-2990.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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