The United Way of the Pennyrile has its earliest roots in an organization called The Associated Charities of Hopkinsville which dates back as early as 1918. The Associated Charities of Hopkinsville had some of the characteristics of later united fundraising organizations; however, its primary purpose was welfare and individual charity cases. The Association was dominated by local Church leadership but was supported by community leadership.
Later, the fund drives for the war defense chests of World War I were born and known as the Community Chest. A united fundraising drive for charities in Hopkinsville was created in late October 1946. It was born at the request of a number of businessmen who had grown weary of the seemingly endless series of independent campaigns. The first session of Hopkinsville’s Community Chest, which was held in the Chamber office on East 9th Street, was attended by 26 Hopkinsville businessmen and women who had been called upon in prior years to do a large part of the soliciting for charity drives. It was the unanimous feeling of the group that a simple, unified charity drives each year would be more profitable for the agencies and far more satisfactory than separate campaigns and canvasses. The name Community Chest was then chosen and the Chamber of Commerce would serve as headquarters for the Community Chest.
The first year of the Community Chest was a huge success. A goal of $26,155 was set for the first campaign. The Community Chest exceeded its goal with $29,538.21 in cash and pledges raised. Several years later, a meeting of key leadership was held at the Memorial Building on February 20, 1958, to discuss the idea of beginning a new community-wide campaign to be called the United Giver’s Fund. The new name was then being used nationally and in most communities rather than Community Chest. Then again, in 1976, several more changes occurred and the name of the fund was changed to the Hopkinsville-Christian County United Way.
Today, our local United Way, which serves Christian, Caldwell, Todd, and Trigg counties, is known collectively as the United Way of the Pennyrile and continues to be the most successful health and human services fundraising organization in the community.