Celebrating the generosity of community donors and challenging them to continue giving, the United Way of Smith County kicked off its 2014-15 campaign.
This year’s campaign goal is $1.75 million, which is $50,000 higher than last year’s.
Campaign chairwoman Mandi Monk-Worthington said the United Way transcends politics and budgets and has a mission to create lasting change by addressing root problems.
“Through you, our United Way can bring compassionate, measurable change for our neighbors,” Ms. Monk-Worthington said during the campaign kickoff at the FRESH by Brookshire’s patio on Thursday.
Donors and supporters filled the patio as people enjoyed food from FRESH and the sounds of the Young Ones band.
United Way of Smith County President Nan Moore said this year’s campaign theme is Local People Meeting Local Needs.
The nonprofit recognized eight companies or “community pillars” that raised from $5,000 to more than $100,000 toward the 2013-14 campaign.
The companies were: Ingersoll Rand/Trane, $321,856.38; Brookshire Grocery Co., $170,129.80; Southside Bank, $116,541.70; CB&I, $80,559.97; Complete Business Systems, $18,568; Texas Spine and Joint, $16,142; Express Employment Professionals, $11,014; and ETTL Engineers & Consultants, $7,252.26.
Ms. Moore said the company contributions fund the nonprofit’s operating expenses so that employee contributions made during the campaign can go directly to the community.
The campaign funding benefits specific community programs that cover a wide range of issues, such as education, health and wellness, financial stability and crisis intervention.
Past recipient programs include adult and at-risk youth education classes at the Literacy Council of Tyler, respite camping through the Arc of Smith County, career and counseling services at Goodwill Industries of East Texas and the family violence sexual assault program at the East Texas Crisis Center.
Last year’s campaign saw more than 8,300 Smith County residents donate with the average gift totaling less than $4 per week.
About $1.65 million was raised and distributed to 41 local programs benefitting 60,000 people.
“It’s used to accomplish a specific goal to make a change in a specific area,” Ms. Monk-Worthington said.
This year’s campaign funds won’t be allocated until early 2015.
All program recipients are in Smith County, so the “money stays here,” Ms. Moore said.
Through the application process, the nonprofit makes sure the recipient programs have clear, achievable goals.
“It really is about affecting change,” Ms. Monk-Worthington said.
Ms. Moore said that’s the value of United Way — the local office has vetted the programs they contribute to and the agencies behind those programs.
This year there is some added incentive to contribute.
Allen Samuels East Texas Hyundai is donating a 2015 Hyundai Accent. Each person who contributes $5 per week ($260 annually) gets one entry to possibly win the car. Each person who gives $7 per week ($364 annually) gets two entries.
The campaign runs through March 31, but the entry deadline for the car is March 13, 2015.