By Todd Cohen
SOUTHERN PINES, N.C. — After falling short of its goal last year, United Way of Moore County aims for a slight increase in its annual fundraising drive this year.
Chaired for the second straight year by Gerald Galloway, retired chief of police for the town of Southern Pines, the campaign has set a goal for this year of $625,000.
That is just over the $624,400 United Way raised last year, when its goal was $650,000.
United Way this year faces the added challenge of raising money at a time when donors already are being asked to support relief efforts in the wake of Hurricane Katrina.
“We support efforts towards helping those people,” says Linda Pearson, executive director. “But we don’t want people to forget about the local communities and organizations, and we hope what they give to Katrina will be above and beyond what they give to their local United Way.”
United Way will be reminding donors that a contribution to United Way is not “giving to just one organization,” she says. “They’re giving to their community and to all of the organizations that fall under that umbrella.”
What’s more, she says, some of United Way’s 24 member agencies may be serving the half-dozen or so families from the Gulf Coast that already having evacuated to Moore County.
The drive kicked off Sept. 9 with a “day of caring,” with 59 volunteers working at 11 United Way agencies, handling tasks ranging from cleaning carpets, washing windows and painting to assisting teachers and reading to children.
“It was an opportunity for the community to go in and really see how these agencies operate,” Pearson says.
The annual drive depends mainly on contributions from individuals, she says, and will make a special effort to encourage gifts of $1,000 or more.
Chaired by Jenna Bullis, a community volunteer, that effort to secure larger gifts aims to generate 15 percent of total giving to the campaign.
United Way this year has enlisted 10 loaned executives to work on the drive, up from nine last year.
Their job will be to branch out and promote the campaign among their peers and colleagues.
Elyse Hillegass, president and CEO of the Moore County Chamber of Commerce, for example, is distributing a letter to all members of the chamber, asking that they support the drive, Pearson says.
And in February, as the drive nears its completion, United Way will hold an event to present its Cornerstone Award to an individual who has shown outstanding volunteerism for the community.
Peggy Kirk Bell, owner of the Mid Pines and Pine Needles resorts, received the award last February for her leadership giving and in-kind contributions to United Way
In addition to supporting its 24 member agencies, funds raised during the drive support a Helpline program that United Way operates with its three-person staff.
The program last year handled an estimated 3,600 to 4,000 calls seeking information about and referrals to health and human services agencies.