United Way upbeat

By Todd Cohen

ASHEBORO, N.C. — United Way of Randolph County has set a $1.5 million goal for its annual fund drive, up $100,000 from the total raised last year, when it fell $220,000 short of its goal.

The drive, which is chaired by Asheboro lawyer Mac Whatley and kicked off September 8, is counting on a revived economy and on reaching new donors and persuading lapsed donors to give again, says Elizabeth Mitchell, chief professional officer.

“Our picture is getting better,” she says.

While Sara Lee laid off 200 employees in the past year, reducing its local workforce by two-thirds, she says, other firms such as Technimark and Asheboro Elastic have expanded.

“Our CEO visits were optimistic about the chances this year,” says Whatley, who also is mayor of Franklinville.

Large industrial employers account for nearly half the dollars the drive raises, while donors giving $1,000 or more account for roughly one-fourth the drive, and small businesses, professionals, retirees, and school and government employees contribute the remainder.

This year, Mitchell says, United Way is “trying to look at pockets of individuals who have not primarily been singular givers.”

Borrowing a page from its counterpart in Las Vegas, for example, United Way will work with students on the mock-trial team at Asheboro High School to target the roughly 55 members of the local bar association, Mitchell says.

Greensboro-based Central Carolina Legal Services, which staffs an office in Asheboro once a week, will talk to the students about the services it provides to clients, and the students then will “serve lawyers with summons to appear and show cause why they haven’t been supporting United Way,” she quips.

In general, Whatley says, “lawyers as a group support the United Way less than other professional people.”

United Way also will assign a staff person to support the workplace campaign at Klaussner Furniture, which employs 1,000 people in Randolph County and 400 in Montgomery County and is the largest private furniture-maker in North Carolina.

To better reach Hispanics, who represent 14 percent of the population in Randolph County, all campaign materials have been printed both in English and Spanish.

The Latino Coalition of Randolph County will provide speakers to talk to Hispanic workers at local plants about United Way, which says its 23 member agencies last year served more than 4,300 Hispanic clients.

And with Hispanics making up most of the workforce at Klaussner’s Candor plant in Montgomery County, which is not served by another local United Way, the entire campaign at the plant will be conducted in Spanish.

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