"We have an important game and we all have to do our part to win," Pukmel told the audience, made up of representatives of businesses, institutions and members of the 25 human service agencies that benefit from the annual fund-raising campaign.
"We really are working together to support what matters," said Pukmel, who was wearing a ball cap with a blinking Redskins logo. The money raised will support "agencies that go to bat for the most vulnerable," he said.
Those include agencies that promote self-sufficiency for the mentally and physically disabled; programs for children, youth and families; and advocacy groups and organizations that respond to community needs during times of crisis, he said.
Members of those organizations tossed small rubber footballs about the dining room as United Way Board President Thomas J. Trgovac announced their names in what he described as "my best Vince McMahon voice," referring to the head of World Wrestling Entertainment.
The $128,901 raised so far came from the campaign's pacesetters, a group of businesses that started their employee campaigns early, or have made corporate pledges.
This year's pacesetters are The Bon-Ton, Citizens Bank of Southern Pennsylvania, F&M Trust, First National Bank of Greencastle (Pa.), J.C. Penney, Lutheran Home Care Services Inc., M&T Bank, Nitterhouse Concrete & Masonry, Patriot Federal Credit Union, Target Distribution Center and the United Way Board of Directors.
The 2003 campaign raised $700,001, a dollar more than the goal last year, according to United Way Executive Director Cynthia Hawbaker.
Pukmel said he is hopeful the goal for this year's campaign can be met. He said he has some concerns about the health of the manufacturing sector of the county, which has been a major contributor in past campaigns.
The final amount raised will be announced in February at the United Way's annual meeting, Hawbaker said.