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County's United Way to hold rally on Thursday

November 02, 2005

In an effort to boost lagging donations, the United Way of Washington County will hold a rally Thursday at 5 p.m. at the campaign thermometer in Hagerstown's Public Square.

As of Monday, the campaign had raised 40 percent of its $1.7 million goal, but was $200,000 behind last year's campaign at this time, according to Shuan Butcher, United Way resource development and campaign director.

"It's obvious that part of the delay is caused by the generous outpouring to the much-needed relief efforts for hurricane victims," Butcher said. "However, many of our top companies showed their true giving spirit by supporting these efforts while still setting higher goals for their United Way campaigns."

Fundraising concerns come at a time when officials learned United Way was ranked as the nation's first choice for charitable giving for 2004-05 by the Chronicle of Philanthropy.

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The magazine said the nation's 1,350 United Ways raised $3.9 billion, an increase of 0.4 percent from 2003. United Way was followed by The Salvation Army, which was first in the previous year's survey and raised $1.5 billion, 9 percent more than in 2003.

"We are very excited about this ranking because it reaffirms that donors trust United Way to improve lives in their community," said Dale Bannon, United Way executive director.

United Way of Washington County supports 36 programs through 20 agencies. Programs include Meals on Wheels, mentoring for at-risk youth, counseling and shelter for abused women and children, and self-sufficiency resources for low-income families.

Bannon said some agencies depend on United Way for a large portion of their budgets. Big Brothers Big Sisters receives 45 percent of its budget from United Way, while the American Red Cross gets 30 percent.

The campaign runs through December.

For information about the United Way, call 301-739-8200.

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