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United Way campaign co-chairs hope disaster won't hamper giving

September 03, 2005|By ANDREW SCHOTZ

andrews@herald-mail.com

WASHINGTON COUNTY


The co-chairmen of Washington County's United Way fundraising campaign said Friday that they hope public donations for Hurricane Katrina victims don't cut into local contributions for charities.

The Washington County chapter's goal for 2005 is $1.7 million.

"We're certainly going to encourage anyone and everyone to meet the needs of those who lost everything in the hurricane," co-chairman Michael Zampelli, the chief operating officer of Antietam Health Services, said Friday. "But don't take that money from the needs of this community. We have needs, too."

Co-chairman Gary Wright, an Allstate insurance agent, said employee contributions are essential to the campaign.

The chapter tries to get as many companies as it can to offer employee donation programs.

Dale Bannon, the chapter's executive director, said 300 to 400 Washington County companies have donation programs. He thinks 100 more could be added this year.

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"If every employer would give their employees the chance, at least the opportunity, to give through payroll deductions, if everyone would give $1 a week, we'd have at least $5 million," Wright said after a campaign kickoff celebration before Friday's Hagerstown Suns game at Municipal Stadium.

United Way of Washington County is an umbrella organization that funnels money to 20 local charities.

Administrative costs were about 12 percent of the money raised in 2004.

The last time the chapter raised as much as $1.7 million was in 2000.

The following year, national fundraising for victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks diverted money that normally would have gone to other causes.

Washington County's United Way chapter planned to raise $1.8 million that year, but ended up with a little more than $1.6 million.

The chapter lowered its goal to $1.6 million in 2004 and raised slightly more than that.

According to the chapter's Web site, it has hit its fundraising goal twice in the last 13 years. Before that, the chapter had hit or exceeded the goal five consecutive years.

Wright said unemployment is low and the economy is good, so he's optimistic about reaching the goal this year.

Actually, the chapter is one-quarter of the way there.

Through what is known as a "Pacesetter" program, some companies start raising money before the full campaign kicks off.

About 15 organizations, including Washington County's government, are part of the Pacesetter group.

Zampelli said Citicorp, a Pacesetter company, deserves special recognition for setting a fundraising goal of $250,000.

The full fundraising campaign is expected to run through early December.

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