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United Way nears goal with $50,000 challenge

January 22, 2008

You've heard of people putting their money where their mouth is, but John Barr is putting $20,000 where his heart is.

Barr, co-chairman of the 2007 fundraising campaign for the United Way of Washington County, has joined Howard and Ann Kaylor and the Community Foundation of Washington County to put together a community challenge.

Barr, the foundation and the Kaylors have pledged to donate $50,000 to the campaign is the community will match it.

We urge citizens to step up and match those donations - $1 a time if that's all they can afford. United Way and its member agencies are the community's safety net and now is the time to make sure they'll be ready to meet the community's needs.

In a Monday interview, Barr, Leah Gayman, the campaign's director of resource development coordinator and Jenny Fleming, the campaign's community building and marketing director, talked about the challenge and what it means to the campaign.

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This year the campaign is celebrating its 50th anniversary with a goal of $1.9 million, which the three said was its most ambitious goal ever.

Not only that, but United Way had added three nonprofits to its list of partners, including the following:

· Wells House, a halfway house/drug- and alcohol-abuse treatment center.

· Children in Need, an agency that provides gently-used and new clothes and school supplies to local school-age children.

· Safe Place, also known as the Child Advocacy Center, provides a child-friendly environment committed to reducing the trauma to children who have been abused.

As of Monday morning, the challenge, first publicized in the Saturday Herald-Mail, had yielded one $1,000 check and another $1,000 pledge.

That means there is $48,000 to go and The Herald-Mail urges those who can give - even if they've already made a pledge - to dig deep for whatever else they can afford.

The United Way and its member agencies provide help for a variety of community needs. Agencies such as Girls Inc., Boy and Girl Scouts, the Boys and Girls Club and Girls Inc. provide character-building and other services for local youth.

The Community Free Clinic provides free medical care for those who don't have health insurance and agencies such as W House and Well House provide services to those addicted to alcohol and drugs.

United Way and all its member agencies' financial records are open to the public. Yes, those who give large amounts are sometimes honored at dinners or other events, but these functions are paid for, not from your contributions, but by corporate sponsors.

On Feb. 15 at noon at Cortland Mansion, there will be a $15-a-person event to mark the end of the campaign. In addition to the admission fee, the event will be underwritten by Palette Pleasers Catering and Rider Jet Center.

Can you help? If so, there are three simple ways to do so, including:

· By calling United Way of Washington County at 301-739-8200, ext. 12.

· By contributing online by going to www.unitedwaywashcounty.org.

· By sending a check to United Way of Washington County at 33 W. Franklin St, Suite 203, Hagerstown, MD 21740.

Finally, if the plight of those whom the United Way serves doesn't move you, consider your contribution as insurance, so that if and when you or one of your friends or family members needs help, one of United Way's agencies can provide it.

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