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United Way officials say campaign closing in on goals

December 09, 1999|By ANDREA ROWLAND

Tri-State United Way agencies' 1999 giving campaigns are closing in on their financial goals despite a variety of challenges, according to United Way officials.

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The campaigns' successes are due to United Way's ability to fund a wide range of programs to meet community needs, officials said.

"We're not just funding an agency, we're funding programs in an agency," said William Bulla, spokesman for the United Way of Washington County.

Tri-State area United Way agencies had raised a combined nearly $2 million by the first week in December. The money will be used in 2000 to fund programs that nurture children, strengthen families, sustain health and wellness and promote self-sufficiency, Bulla said.

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Contributions to the United Way of Washington County's 1999 campaign had by Dec. 8 reached $975,000, nearly 57 percent of the $1.7 million campaign goal, Bulla said.

"We're thrilled with the excitement and enthusiasm we've seen in the employee campaigns," he said. "Some employees have really knocked themselves out."

Other area fund drives such as The Salvation Army and Hagerstown YMCA capital campaigns seem to have had little impact on the United Way effort, Bulla said.

Numerous county companies have increased their employee campaign and/or corporate giving amounts, and five Washington County organizations have already completed their 1999 campaigns, he said.

The United Way of Berkeley and Morgan Counties, W.Va., had by Dec. 9 collected more than $509,000 in contributions, nearly 93 percent of the Martinsburg-based agency's $550,000 goal, said Campaign Chairwoman Marcia Snow.

"The enthusiasm here in our community has been phenomenal," she said.

Snow said she was "very optimistic" that the agency would meet its goal by the fund drive's Dec. 15 end date, she said.

The United Way of Jefferson County, W.Va., had raised nearly 60 percent of its $260,000 goal with contributions of some $154,000 as of Dec. 6, said Executive Director Susan Pellish.

"We started a little slow, but I've been just thrilled with the support of the board of directors and the campaign workers," said Pellish, who took her post Oct. 11.

The Jefferson County agency endured a mid-October staff transition and campaign reorganization effort, and the majority of employed county residents - 51 percent - work in Baltimore and Washington, D.C., Pellish said.

She said the Jefferson County United Way's big push has been to get these employees to designate donated funds to hometown agencies.

Despite challenges to the 1999 campaign, several participating businesses have doubled their donations from 1998 and others have met their contribution goals, Pellish said.

"We have nowhere to go but up," she said.

The United Way of Franklin County, Pa., on Dec. 9 had raised more than 61 percent of its $735,000 campaign goal with contributions of about $450,000, said Executive Director Cindy Hawbaker.

Two corporate contributions that have in the past accounted for about 20 percent of the campaign goal were still expected, and Hawbaker said she looked with "guarded optimism" to meeting the goal.

Although donations by individuals have increased by about 10 percent, the Franklin County United Way's efforts have been hampered by the loss of traditional supporters, Hawbaker said.

Many large industries have closed within the past five years in the Chambersburg area, she said.

Tri-State area employee and corporate contributions are expected to jump within the next month as some companies have waited to start employee campaigns and many businesses make donations based upon year-end financial data, United Way officials said.

Some businesses see the five weeks left until Washington County's Jan. 20 end date as "plenty of time" to raise funds, Bulla said.

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