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United Way makes final push for goal

December 18, 2004|BY MARLO BARNHART

marlob@herald-mail.com

HAGERSTOWN - Art Callaham, co-chairman of the United Way of Washington County's campaign, challenged all county residents Friday to send a Christmas card to the United Way with $5 or $10 or whatever they can spare so the 2004 campaign can make its goal for the first time since 2000.

"We just need this one last push - just $15,000 more - to make our $1.6 million goal," he said at the annual luncheon thanking volunteers and supporters for raising $1,585,000 so far.

Robert E. Ernst, the other campaign co-chairman, told the group gathered at The Plaza Hotel the goal is so close "we can taste it."

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"We're going to shake the trees for those last dollars," Ernst said.

A year ago, the United Way fell nearly $260,000 short of its 2003 goal of $1,846,994. The amount collected last year was $1,587,635.

One month ago, many of the company campaigns still were in progress and a portion of the mail solicitation gifts hadn't been received, said Jennifer Fleming, marketing and campaign coordinator.

Fleming said she hoped the community would rally in the final few weeks to make sure the goal is reached so funding levels can be maintained for member agencies.

One of the highlights of the 2004 campaign pointed out at Friday's luncheon included the awarding of the first Michael G. Callas campaign award (formerly the chairman's award) to the Washington County Board of Education for a unified campaign in all county schools that led to a $14,000 increase in giving this year.

Other companies cited at Friday's luncheon included:

n Citicorp was honored as the highest contributing business in the campaign, with a corporate and employee total of $373,000.

n GST AutoLeather earned the spirit award. GST earned the award for running an "inspiring" campaign despite having fewer employees and some setbacks during the year, Callaham said.

n First Data was cited for organizing many creative events to raise money and awareness and for its sole sponsorship of the Day of Caring for the fourth year in a row.

n Hagerstown Trust boasted 100 percent employee participation as well as an office Olympics and collection of school supplies for several United Way agencies.

n Ferris Baker Watts also had 100 percent employee participation along with a 70 percent increase in giving this year.

n Businesses with 20 percent or more increases in giving were the City of Hagerstown, DOT Foods, Fidelity Bank, Rayloc, Target, Washington County government and the Washington County Health System.

A skit performed by employees from Review and Herald Publishing illustrated how simple acts of caring can make life better for everyone.

Four employees took turns giving a helping hand to a homeless person, portrayed by another employee. As they walked away from the man, each picked up a musical instrument and began playing.

At the end, the homeless man joined in with his harmonica and all sang the words of the song, "United In The Way."

Donations may be sent to The United Way of Washington County at 18706 Crestwood Drive, Hagerstown, MD 21742-2706. The agency's telephone number is 301-739-8200.

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