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December 3--  The United Way of Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties is launching an initiative with the agencies it supports and local churches to make sure local charities are not being ripped off.

United Way Executive Director Patricia Dixon reports a data system called "Charity Tracker" is being considered to make sure only those who really need help get it and that there's no double dipping going on.

"We feel like we have to be good stewards of the money which people give the United Way.  We do have people who do try to work the system and then we have people who really have a need penalized.  If we join together, we have more accountability of who is getting help and who's not getting help," she reports.

Last week a representative of the United Way in Charleston, South Carolina was in Vidalia to meet with local agencies and explain how the system has been working in their area.

According to Cathy Easley, "We have been doing Charity Tracker for about four years and it has changed clients' lives.  We have a lot of generational poverty in our area and breaking the cycle and by working with all the agencies in our area and by knowing where they've been for help and what they need, we can better change their life."

The computer system links all the social service agencies together and allows them to track assistance to various individuals.

"I'm so excited about this coming to the table because I've been trying to get it implemented for several years," Dixon says.  "I just think if we can go out into the community and say this is what we are doing to track the funding, it will make a huge impact on what United Way and our whole community is doing here in the Toombs, Montgomery and Wheeler Counties," she believes.