08/02/11 — United Way kicks off Frontrunner campaign

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United Way kicks off Frontrunner campaign

By Kenneth Fine
Published in News on August 2, 2011 1:46 PM

The United Way will not officially kick off its 2011 Community Campaign until the end of the month, but several local businesses have already set the pace for what officials hope will be a lucrative fundraising effort.

Campaign chairman Julie Daniels said eight "frontrunners" have come together to raise at least $100,000 of the organization's roughly $1.3 million goal.

"(The Frontrunner program) really just kind of helps us set the pace for the campaign, so when we go and have the official kickoff, hopefully we can go there with some exciting news -- that these companies have already stepped up, contributed and set a good, winning pace," she said.

And reaching the goal, she added, particularly given the tough economic climate, is as important as ever this year.

"With the programs that we fund, we are going to affect one out of five people in Wayne County," Mrs. Daniels said. "So every person that we talk to probably knows someone ... that has been personally affected by a United Way-funded program."

Each program that the United Way backs -- from Meals on Wheels to domestic violence prevention -- is chosen based on its commitment to one of four challenges facing the county: education, community enhancement and stabilizing personal crisis, health and wellness and financial stability.

And more than 90 percent of the money raised during the group's annual campaign goes into those programs, Mrs. Daniels said.

The Frontrunner Campaign might already be under way, but there is still plenty of time for local residents who are not already contributing to do so.

Donations can be made at the United Way's website, www.unitedwayne.org, and pledges can be given by calling the organization headquarters at 735-3591.

Some residents, though, might want to hold off until the campaign kickoff -- when "Elvis" takes to the Paramount Theatre stage Aug. 30.

Country Music Association Tribute Artist of the year, Stephen Freeman, along with the Echoes of a Legend Showband are set to perform in downtown Goldsboro the last Tuesday of the month.

Ticket proceeds will benefit the campaign, are on sale now and available at the United Way office or website.

The goal has been set and the Frontrunners -- Turner Equipment Co., Cooper Bussmann, Waukesha Electric, Southco Distributing Co., Strickland Insurance, Piedmont Natural Gas, Franklin Baking Co., Goldsboro News-Argus -- have been recognized.

But Mrs. Daniels said this year's Community Campaign is about far more than simply hitting a particular dollar amount.

It's about getting a hot meal to an aging veteran or retiree who might not have frequent visitors.

It's about providing shelter for those who have fallen on tough times.

And it's about teaching the youngest generation the importance of learning to read.

"So, technically, we're not going to be promoting the $1.3 million," Mrs. Daniels said. "We're looking at promoting the fact that we want to change the lives of 26,022 people."