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United Way aims higher

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By Todd Cohen

SANFORD, N.C. — After raising roughly $600,000 each of the past two years, and falling short of its goal last year by about $200,000, United Way of Lee County has kicked off its annual fund drive with a goal of raising $800,000.

“There’s a great demand,” says Terri Taylor, executive director. “There are lots of people who need additional services.”

The drive, chaired by Michael Thomas of the Normann Group of Wachovia Securities, will focus on contacting “just about everyone we can reach in every way we can reach them,” Taylor says.

With only 50,000 people living in the county, and many companies with employees who live outside the county, she says, United Way’s 30 member agencies face a lot of pressure raising money.

And uncertainty tied to across-the-board United Way cuts after last year’s drive fell short have kept agencies from planning for needed expansion of services to meet growing demand, she says.

To help donors better understand what member agencies do and the impact they have, agency representatives will visit companies to talk to employees.

Taylor says if every working person living in Lee County gave their “fair share,” equal to 1 percent of their annual income to United Way, or one hour’s pay a month, the drive would raise more than $1 million.

United Way also is asking all donors, when they fill out their pledge cards, to complete a survey assessing the use of their donations.

Combining the survey results with other data on needs in the county, United Way will look for ways to start new programs, provide emergency help and a cushion to help people in need, Taylor says.

“We want to determine where there’s a need and where should we target our resources beyond what we’re doing,” she says.

A golf tournament September 14 at Tobacco Road Golf Club in Sanford raised over $4,000 for the drive.

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