09/07/10 — United Way will kick off 2010 campaign Thursday

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United Way will kick off 2010 campaign Thursday

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 7, 2010 1:46 PM

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The Paramount Theater will be the site for annual kickoff -- and a couple of theatrical debuts.

United Way of Wayne County will promote its annual campaign with a different message this year -- despite the gloomy economy, the community is filled with super heroes.

The campaign kickoff will be held on Thursday evening at the Paramount Theatre, beginning at 5:30 p.m., leading up to the annual Days of Caring next week.

The free event is open to representatives and beneficiaries of agencies served, as well as members of the public, said Whitney Jansta, community engagement manager for United Way.

"Our entire campaign theme this year is 'Together We Have the Power to be Super,'" she said. "We're trying to emphasize that each of us can do good things on our own but if we all come together, we can really accomplish great things and improve the lives of 28,108 people in Wayne County."

This year's goal is $1,400,932,000, slightly up from last year's goal of $1.4 million, she said. The economy stretched everyone's pocketbooks and extended the campaign deadline, with only 90 percent, of $1.25 million brought in.

One hundred percent of the needs, though, are ongoing, Ms. Jansta said.

Among the agencies served by the United Way are American Red Cross, Boy Scouts of Tuscarora Council, Boys and Girls Club of Wayne County, Communities in Schools, Girl Scouts of N.C. Coastal Pines, Salvation Army, The Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Partnership for Children of Wayne County, WAGES, WATCH, Wayne County Charitable Partnership and the Wayne Uplift Resource Association.

Officials opted to take another approach to this year's campaign, said Suzie Acree, associate director of United Way.

"Last year we tried a message that was appropriate for the economy, that was appropriate to everyone's needs," she said. "It feels like we did better than most non-profits. However, we still came up short of the goal.

"Maybe people don't want to be reminded of what they see on the news every day, so this year's message is more positive -- together we can really do this if each person does a little bit."

Ultimately, it's all about attitude, United Way executive director Steve Parr said.

"We can do this, we've just got to put our minds to it," he said. "It's up to the community to respond."

Named chairman of this year's community campaign is Lynn Williams of Mt. Olive Pickle Co., with Julie Daniels of Stern Agee as vice chairman.

Typically the campaign kicks off with Taste of Wayne County. That event will now be held on Oct. 14, as more of a mid-campaign event.

Days of Caring, encouraging volunteer efforts around the community, will be held next month.

And there is a hint of some other things to come during the upcoming campaign, Parr said.

"We're going to be doing some fun things to get the community excited, including a special appearance by Elvis," he said. "We're going to continue to do our partnership with the Mount Olive baseball team and a clinic for youth in October, and shedding light on things that we do in the community."

At Thursday's social and reception, more information will be given about this year's campaign, including the announcement of seven front-runners.

Parr described the front-runners as "groups or organizations that have chosen to set their goals of at least 3 percent over what they did last year and to run and complete their campaign before the kick-off."

Organizers say they are pumped up about the coming weeks, which will culminate with a celebration planned at campaign's end, Dec. 16, with a car giveaway.