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United Way raises about $1.5 million

February 12, 2004|by MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

Citing economic issues and company employment decisions, the United Way of Washington County has announced it fell nearly $260,000 short of its 2003 fund-drive goal.

But James Taylor, United Way executive director, said the amount collected in the 2003 campaign - $1,587,635 - was just 2 percent less than the amount collected in the 2002 effort.

"It has definitely been a difficult year for fund raising," Taylor said Wednesday. The goal was $1,846,994, which Taylor said was part of a three-year strategy to meet an estimated annual need of $2.3 million to fully fund the 21-member agencies' requests for their health and human services work.

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With the final figures in, United Way personnel will begin figuring out how much each member agency will get. "And that is a tough job," said Jenny Fleming, marketing and campaign coordinator.

Taylor said those amounts should be finalized in March.

"United Way's ability to improve lives in Washington County goes beyond the annual campaign, but it is disappointing to have fewer dollars to use in those efforts in the community," Taylor said.

Approximately 60 percent of the United Way's funds come from employee contributions.

Taylor said employee contributions may have been negatively affected by rising insurance costs for employees, who trimmed their United Way contributions to balance increased deductions from their paychecks.

2003 campaign chairman Richard Reichenbaugh said that everyone at United Way was grateful for the support the agency received.

Businesses that gave 20 percent or more than last year in their 2003 campaigns included Apparatus Repair & Engineering, Associated Engineering Sciences, Caldwell Manufacturing, Erie Insurance Group, Hagerstown Paint and Glass, Sam's Club, St. Lawrence Cement and United Parcel Service.

A spirit award was given to First Data Merchant Services, whose campaign has produced steady growth over the past five years and whose corporate giving has more than doubled during that time.

The 2003 chairman's award for the company that not only increased achievement and participation but also educated its employees about United Way in new ways went to The Herald-Mail Company.

Plans for the 2004 campaign are under way, drawing upon the expertise of past campaign chairs and other volunteers.

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