Great Rivers United Way and The Salvation Army are readying checkered flags, but not white ones of surrender, as deadlines for their major fundraisers approach Tuesday, and both lag by tens of thousands behind goals.

United Way staffers punched a lot of figures into the calculator to compute that they could make up their $145,000 shortfall toward its $2.09 million goal if each of the 254,078 people in the agency’s six-county service area kicked in 57 cents. (The per-person donation would rise to 90 cents if it excluded the 106,824 people a United Way study deemed too cash-strapped to afford it.)

The Salvation Army has a smaller gap to fill, being $100,000 short on a goal that is a tad under half of United Way’s.

This is the first time the corps has set a $1 million target for its Red Kettle campaign.

Both organizations faced similar plights last year, when fundraising also went down to the wire, but both went a tad over their goals.

The agencies’ last-minute pleas somewhat echo each other, with United Way Executive Director Mary Kay Wolf saying, “We base our goal on historic need. If we don’t make the goal, we can’t meet the need.”

“As we try to emphasize throughout the course of our campaign, success is about people coming together and giving what they can to better our community,” Wolf said.

Nick Ragner, the Salvation Army’s public relations coordinator, also had said some programs might have to be cut because the campaign accounts for about one-third of the corps’ annual budget.

“At one point, we were projecting a shortfall,” Ragner said. “Now, we’re convinced that we can reach this goal and continue offering help to those who need it the most, without the worry of Red Kettle Campaign funding.”

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Mike Tighe is the Tribune newsroom's senior citizen. That said, he don't get no respect from the cub reporters as he goes about his duly-appointed rounds on the health, religion and whatever-else-lands-in-his-inbox beats. Call him at 608-791-8446.

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