07/26/04 — United Way drive begins with new twists

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United Way drive begins with new twists

By Becky Barclay
Published in News on July 26, 2004 1:59 PM

With some big changes in its 2004 campaign, United Way is hoping it won't fall short of its goal for the third year in a row.

Donnie Barnes, owner of Grand Rental Station, is this year's campaign chairman. He announced a goal of $1,322,000, or 26,500 people to be helped.

To help reach it, he noted a big addition to the campaign -- a new truck giveaway. Those who give their fair share -- one hour's pay per month -- will qualify to win the truck in 11 drawings. In the final drawing, the 11 finalists will choose keys, one of which will start the truck.

"We're hoping that's going to have multiple effects," said Barnes. "For people who haven't given in the past, maybe this will be an incentive. Or for those who have given, but not their fair share, maybe this will encourage them to give their fair share."

Barnes said United Way also hopes the truck giveaway will encourage businesses to conduct their employee campaigns early. "We try to basically run a three-month campaign starting Sept. 1," he said. "The truck's going to be given away the week before Thanksgiving, so if a business has not completed its campaign and turned in the paperwork by then, its employees won't have a chance to win the truck."

Also new this year is the Front Runners program. In past years United Way has had Pacesetters, businesses that conducted their employee campaigns before the general campaign.

Barnes said the Pacesetters program has been phased out. But United Way didn't have that momentum of the Pacesetters last year and everything went slower, he said.

United Way will ask the previous year's winners of the campaign chairman awards to be Front Runners. The only criteria is that they have to finish their campaigns by Aug. 29. This year's Front Runners are the Wayne Community College, Cooper-Standard and the News-Argus.

Another new addition to the campaign is a "cultivation division," a group of volunteers who will concentrate solely on businesses and people that have never given to United Way.

Barnes stressed that United Way is really focusing on the number of people who can be helped and how they can be reached this year.

He said that what United Way "really has to hammer home to the public this year is that this is not a United Way goal; it's a community goal. United Way is only the vehicle that helps raise the money. And 100 percent of this money stays in Wayne County.

"It's helping the people who live down the street from you, the people what your children go to school with, the people you work with.

"Either the community's going to embrace that goal as its way of helping the people we live with or it's not. And if the community as a whole doesn't, then there's nothing the volunteers can do to raise the money."

Wayne County has always been a good helping community, according to Barnes. "I think the shortfalls that we've had in the last two years are much more related to issues outside the control of the community, such as layoffs, businesses being purchased by an entity that is not based in the county and doesn't support payroll deduction or doesn't conduct an employee campaign.

"What we have to try to get across to owners who don't live in the county is the fact that their employees live here. And if you're going to make a profit in Wayne County, then you have a moral and ethical responsibility to give back. And there's no better way in this community to give back than United Way."

Barnes feels the chances of United Way making its goal this year are good. "We have a list of those who supported United Way last year and a list of those who have not. The total of those two added together amounts to way more than $1,332,000.

"We have the people with the income necessary to make that goal. Whether or not they choose to give will be up to them. But we will ask them. They will be given every opportunity to understand where the money's going, why we need it, why it's important."

Barnes said it takes a commitment from everyone. "We at United Way are willing to try new things to excite donors, but we need their commitment back."

This is Barnes' fourth year of working with the campaign. He said he never remembers a time growing up that his mother and father weren't chairman of a charitable agency or raising money for United Way.

"I remember one time asking my father who was going somewhere at night (for a charitable cause) why he did it," said Barnes. "He told me that if you are fortunate to be able to give back, that's what you do. You don't think about it. You don't debate about it. You don't say you don't have the time."