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United Way for 2006

August 31, 2006

Weather permitting, the United Way of Washington County will kick off its 2006 campaign this Friday at 7 p.m. with a ceremony at home plate at Hagerstown's Municipal Stadium.

At that time, a group of 300 volunteers and donors will gather to make two announcements - the 2006 goal and the addition of three new agencies to the United Way fold.

This year's campaign goal will be $1.75 million, up from $1.7 million last year. Though 2005's total was $18,700 over the previous year's, it fell about $50,000 short of goal, probably because many local citizens responded to appeals for help in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.

Given the destruction inflicted by that storm, the generosity of local citizens was both needed and appreciated. However, there are needs here in Washington County that also deserve donors' consideration.

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Some of those needs will be meet by the three new agencies that have joined the United Way of Washington County this year.

They include:

· REACH, which stands for Religious Effort to Assist and Care for the Homeless.

REACH, best known for operating the cold-weather shelter in the Aspire to Serve Building at 140 W. Franklin St., will get United Way funding for another of its functions - the senior transportation program.

REACH makes it possible for local senior citizens to get to the grocery stores and to doctors' appointments with this service.

· The Walnut Street Community Health Clinic. The United Way will fund the clinic's preventative dental program, which helps those who couldn't otherwise afford dental care to preserve their teeth.

· The STAR Equestrian Center, which is part of the Star Community, which was once the Anita Lynne Home. STAR now offers a range of services to those with special needs.

United Way will fund STAR's horse therapy program, which has helped autistic children who had previously not spoken to develop language skills.

These are only a few of the local agencies that partner with United Way. Others deal with everything from helping youth to build character and learn responsibility to assisting the families of those who are dying from any cause or who have Alzheimer's disease.

Life is uncertain, so none of us knows when we might need one or more of these agencies' help. The work of these groups is overseen by a volunteer board that makes sure the money is spent as intended and that financial records are open to the public.

For more information, visit the United Way Web site at: www.unitedwaywashcounty.org or call 301-739-8200.

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