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Campaign ready to kick off

August 21, 2003|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

The United Way of Washington County is preparing to kick off its 46th annual campaign. But it's also introducing the "united way," a new direction for the fund-raiser announced Wednesday by James Taylor, executive director for both endeavors.

"Literacy and education are big concerns in our community," Taylor said. "We are planning events to talk about these issues this year in a united way."

Details are still being worked out, but Taylor said he believes United Way of Washington County should be known as more than a fund-raiser. The title "United Way" also should describe how the members and volunteers work together within the community throughout the year.

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"United Way can't truly be successful until our community succeeds," Taylor said. "To do that, we must look at the underlying challenges that face our community, such as literacy and education."

The fund-raising campaign officially gets under way on Aug. 27 when nearly 300 volunteers will go to community organizations to work on service projects ranging from painting to planting trees, cutting weeds, serving meals and weatherstripping windows.

For the third year in a row, First Data Merchant Services is sponsor of the Day of Caring and Sharon Martin is chairwoman for the event.

"We're really branching out this year," Martin said. "We like to get our hands dirty."

This year's campaign goal is expected to be approved later this week and announced next Wednesday at the Day of Caring rally at First Christian Church on Potomac Avenue.

Richard Reichenbaugh, United Way campaign chairman, said this year's fund-raising efforts will be refocused on small businesses, many of which don't give to United Way.

"The issue is we have more needs than we have funding," Reichenbaugh said.

Last year, the United Way campaign raised $1,623,202, just short of the $1.7 million goal. There are 21 United Way agencies.

The Day of Caring is designed to energize United Way volunteers and to provide needed services to agencies throughout Washington County.

Taylor stressed the need not only for the success of the fund-raising campaign also for the success of efforts toward improving the community through positive efforts all year long.

"We need to come together as a community - in a united way," Taylor said.

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