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Giveaway boosts giving

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By Jennifer Whytock

JACKSONVILLE, N.C. — With the hope of winning a new car while giving to a good cause, donors are pouring money into United Way of Onslow County and have pushed the 2004 drive halfway to its goal in less than three weeks.

United Way aims to raise $500,000 this year after exceeding last year’s $400,000 goal by $60,000.

Donations already total $280,000, including $179,000 from early “pacesetter” campaigns.

“I think we’ll even beat this year’s goal too,” says Allyson James, executive director.

Her confidence was bolstered by donations Friday just before the weekly drawing that puts one donor into the final competition for a free car.

Eligible donors must give $52 or more, an amount James says does not exclude too many people.

Don Williamson, owner of three local car dealerships, will give away the car to one donor.

Last year, Williamson also donated a car, which James says helped United Way surpass its goal.

“That’s why there was the big jump last year,” says James. “Otherwise it would have been hard as a new executive director and being new to this town.”

In 2003, James became executive director, her first-ever United Way job, after serving as president and CEO of the American Melanoma Foundation and a manager at the Scripps Cancer Center, both in San Diego.

The economy is fairly stable in Onslow County, which includes Camp Lejeune, the Marine Corps base, along with public schools, service firms and some manufacturing, James says.

United Way cannot directly solicit employees at Camp Lejeune, the biggest employer, but is listed with 1,700 other nonprofits on the Base Combined Federal Campaign brochure employees can use to designate donations.

“Last year just about 1 percent of the total $460,000 we raised came from base workers,” says James.

This year, United Way is taking a new “What if?” slogan to its 60 employee campaign sites to help boost donations.

United Way staff and volunteers visit each site and ask questions tailored to each company, such as “what if” 10 more employees gave, or “what if” each donor gave $1 more a month, and then show how much donations would increase.

Last year, roughly 22 percent of all donations were designated by donors for specific agencies or initiatives, while the remainder went to a general fund allocated by United Way staff and board to its 18 agencies.

The chair of the 2004 campaign is John Hetzler, advertising director at Freedom ENC Communications in Jacksonville.

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