EASTERN PANHANDLE, W.Va. (WDVM) — The United Way of the Eastern Panhandle needs your help to raise $400,000 and you only have a few days left!

The united way of the eastern panhandle is about halfway through the unity campaign, a 12-day fund-raising event that will support 37 organizations in the eastern panhandle. According to the United Way, 34% of households in the Eastern Panhandle struggle to afford the essentials needed to survive like housing, child care, food, transportation, health care, and a smartphone plan.

Heather Polinik, the director of resource development and marketing of the united way of the eastern panhandle, explains this fundraiser will not only help the united way provide community resources but will allow the partnering organizations to further their efforts in the community as well.

“Each organization has their own fundraising goal. So when a donor makes a donation 100% of that gift goes to the nonprofit of their choice, plus a portion of each gift is matched and sent directly to that organization.”

The causes range from mental health services to food and job security and resources for children in need. Casa of the eastern panhandle is working to raise 23-thousand dollars to support their “Fostering futures” program. The organization is an acronym for court-appointed special advocate and works to support children who have experienced abuse or neglect and subsequently enter the foster care system. Programs Director Cari Lefeber explains the organization is trying to raise $23,000 to serve 23 additional kids in the year 2023.

“The fostering futures program looks at youth who are on target to age out of the foster care system,” Lefeber explains. “So we pair them with a volunteer mentor that will help them survive the process”

Lefeber also explained that many kids set to age out of the foster care system can sometimes lack basic skills like how to apply for a job or obtain a copy of their birth certificate. She says many kids age out of the foster care system without foster parents or guardians so there is no one to teach them those skills. She says the funds from the unity campaign will be used to recruit volunteers who will serve as those mentors and then also build out their fostering futures program.

Horses with hearts give people with disabilities the opportunity to try their hand at horseback riding. Co-founder Kay Barkwill says the organization is trying to pave the gravel areas all around the farm, a project that will cost around $95,000. While some may criticize their use of the funds, Barkwill says those improvements are necessary.

“If we want to do this further into the winter, we need some asphalt. We need the asphalt for those who are in wheelchairs, wheelchairs and have ambulatory issues. So it may look like a bonus to have paved areas but it’s really a safety issue and it’s really really important for us to have it.”

Horses with hearts: “It’s just one more step of getting us where we need to be. We could stay like this forever. But we’d be missing the opportunity to change a lot of lives.

The last day to donate is April 12. For more information on the unity campaign and to donate, please visit the official website.