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United Way in Rocky Mount campaign exceeds $1 million.

By Marion P. Blackburn

ROCKY MOUNT, N.C. — Hand-made greeting cards from local children went to nursing home residents last year, thanks to Kidskards, a community program of the Rocky Mount Area United Way.

More than 80 volunteers at United Way, which raised $1.07 million in its fall campaign, now are set to begin deciding how to spend that money on local agencies and on United Way programs, including its volunteer center and Kidskards.

Agencies expected to seek funding during April include the Boys and Girls Clubs, Meals on Wheels, My Sister’s House domestic abuse programs, United Community Ministries and other organizations.

Final allocations will be announced in July.

“There are many needs in our community, and a finite amount of money,” says Michelle A. Sessoms, executive director. “A lot of man-hours will go to determining how those dollars are spent. Accountability is very important to us and we want to make sure our donors’ money is being used in the best ways possible.”

The Rocky Mount Area United Way wrapped up its campaign in November by raising 85 percent of its goal, matching last year’s total despite the temporary loss of a major firm’s pledges.

Community leaders in banking, government, industry and other sectors gave Rocky Mount’s campaign a boost by appealing directly to their peers.

Campaign Highlights

* Boddie-Noell Enterprises: Campaign up over 10 percent

* Consolidated Diesel: 70 donors gave at least $500

* RBC Centura: Raised nearly $160,000.

* Bobby Murray Toyota/Mitsubishi: First employee campaign raised over $7,000

* Nash County: Employees gave $23,162, up 77 percent

* Residential campaign: Grew more than $11,000

These 11 people, known as the campaign cabinet, successfully persuaded others to contribute, says Tom Rogers, campaign chairman and retired chief strategic development officer for RBC Centura.“When you have volunteers who are themselves supporters of the United Way, and they are respected in the community for what they do, they can call on their peers,” he says. “That creates a special opportunity where it’s hard to say no.”Another effective fundraising approach was to deliver information about United Way agencies directly to local businesses through expos, Sessoms says.Once employees saw the benefits of giving, she says, they more readily made pledges.“Employees could meander during lunch and learn where their money was going,” she says.

The local operation of Abbott Laboratories, the source of about 20 percent of United Way funding in 2003, became Hospira last year, a spin-off company whose 2004 contribution will not be counted until the 2005 drive because of an accounting change, although it participated in the fall 2004 drive.

The Rocky Mount Area United Way supports nonprofits in Nash and Edgecombe counties, including the Wright’s Center for seniors, the Family YMCA, Mental Health Association and the Salvation Army.

It also houses a volunteer center for the two counties that pairs willing workers with needy agencies.

The volunteer center becomes a clearinghouse for volunteers during crisis such as a hurricane, tornado or natural disaster.

While allocations get under way in April, so does planning for this fall’s drive, headed by Craig Worthy, senior vice president and chief financial officer of Boddie-Noell Enterprises, owner of several Hardee’s and other restaurant franchises.

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