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Local United Way gives us reason to celebrate

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By The Staff

Even in the toughest of times, there’s always something to celebrate. And while these may not be the toughest of times (anyone who lived through the Great Depression or World War II would tell you those times were much tougher), these are certainly not the best of times.

The national economy has slowed, and gas prices are at historic highs, with some experts predicting the national average for unleaded regular gasoline will break the $5 mark this year.

Here in Lancaster County, those problems are compounded by high unemployment, which has been at or near the double-digit rate for about two years, primarily because of the exodus of Springs Global jobs.

In addition, the housing building boom in Indian Land has slowed, as the housing slump that has affected most of the country for a couple of years now has finally taken hold on the greater Charlotte area.

But the United Way of Lancaster County’s 2007-08 fundraising campaign isn’t a dim light in the local economic picture – even though in times like these, you’d probably expect that such a campaign would fall a bit short. That wasn’t the case at all. The campaign not only met its $400,000 target, but it exceeded it by $55,740, or 14 percent.

Hooray!

That’s something to celebrate, and that’s exactly what local United Way leaders did as they formally closed out the campaign and prepared to start a new one.

Representatives from the pacesetting local businesses and industries that lead the charge to raise money for the local United Way gathered to celebrate their collective success and to prepare for another year of fundraising, and a number of awards were handed out to honor the achievement of businesses and their employees who got behind the 2007-08 campaign.

Circle of Excellence awards were the biggest awards handed out. They went to the Duracell plant on S.C. 9 Bypass, the city of Lancaster and one of its employees and The Lancaster News and one of its employees.

Duracell received the Chairman’s Award, which recognized the Proctor and Gamble-owned company for its 30 years of participation in the United Way drives. The local outfit has raised $1.7 million in three decades. Last year, it raised $80,000, which was 17 percent of the total fundraiser.

The city of Lancaster received the Campaign of the Year award for its more than 460 percent increase over last year’s fundraising effort. City employee Rhonda Fortune received the Campaign Coordinator of the Year award for leading the city’s effort.

The Lancaster News received the the Community Partner of the Year award, and the newspaper’s advertising manager, Leigh Airington, was presented the Volunteer of the Year award.

That the 2007-08 campaign exceeded its goal is a testament to the leadership of the local United Way, which is led by executive director Denise Keating and a local board of community leaders.

It’s also a testament in how strongly this community believes in its United Way, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.

Twenty-two community organizations receive financial assistance from the local United Way, and it’s fair to say that many of them very much depend on this funding to operate. Everyone who made this year’s campaign – and that includes YOU if you donated to the campaign – probably knows this.

It’s quite simply a worthwhile cause – a campaign that each year is led by caring community leaders who want to help fund local agencies.

It’s not a campaign where the money raised leaves the county or goes to pay huge overhead or salary expenses. And that’s why so many local folks were willing to take their time to get involved with it and to their pockets to get behind it financially.

Lancaster County can be proud of the success of the campaign.

Now let’s work to make the 2008-09 another great success.