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A great finish for 2006: United Way hits its goal

December 29, 2006

Thanks to a last-minute challenge grant from longtime local developer Vincent Groh, the United Way of Washington County has hit its 2006 goal of $1.75 million.

Dale Bannon, executive director of the agency, said Wednesday that at a campaign rally Dec. 21, the tally was still $45,000 short. At that point, Bannon said, Groh offered $20,000, provided other donors matched his gift.

On Tuesday that total was reached, Bannon said, when three donors came to the United Way's offices on Crestwood Drive with combined donations of $10,000.

Though the goal has been reached, Bannon said the campaign would remain open until Jan. 15, because the United Way's member agencies have needs that exceed the amount raised.

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The fact that the agency has reached goal is a testament to the giving spirit of people in Washington County. When residents here see a need, they respond.

That's true whether it's helping a burned-out family get back on its feet or an agency such as Girls Inc. help young women build character, self-esteem and gain the real-world skills they need to be successful.

Vincent Groh also deserves applause for stepping up and challenging the community to think about the needs of others.

It's his second significant gift in recent years that has been made public. In March 2003, Groh donated the former Henry's Theater in downtown Hagerstown to the city for use as a magnet school for the arts.

The school will be named for Barbara Ingram, Groh's late wife and a former art teacher. In August, it was agreed that funding from a state bond issue would flow through the city government, which retains ownership of the building.

The school is scheduled to open in 2008 and will be able to handle 300 high school students.

When people of means make large donations, there are always those who say that it was easy for them to do.

However, it would be just as easy for those same people to spend that money on themselves. The fact that they and all the United Way's other donors instead choose to help meet the community's needs is worthy of much praise.

If you'd like to join them, you may still contribute online by going to: www.unitedwaywashcounty.org.

Or you may phone 301-739-8200, ext. 4. Contributions may also be mailed to the United Way offices at 18706 Crestwood Drive, Hagerstown, MD 21742.

Amounts pledged after Jan. 17 will be applied to the 2007 campaign, reminding all of us that help for the community isn't something that can be done only once. It must be an ongoing effort.

To all who helped the current campaign, we thank you.

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