Campaign surpasses halfway point at meeting

WINCHESTER – United Way of Northern Shenandoah Valley announced promising 2015 campaign fundraising figures thus far at its first public report meeting on Friday morning.

This year’s campaign, which started Sept. 9 with the Day of Caring and will end on Dec. 31, has a grand total fundraising goal of $1.1 million.

Kelly Bober, executive director of ChildSafe Center, opened the meeting with a presentation about how United Way funds benefit members of the community. She described a young girl’s process of coping with and recovering from sexual abuse while at the center.

“You may not realize how even the pennies … really do make an impact in the lives of these children to give them a much better future,” she said.

Campaign Chair and First Bank CEO Scott Harvard said that the nonprofit has assisted more than 148,000 individuals and benefited 42 partner agencies this past year. He also said employee campaigns contribute about 70 percent of funds raised.

Cabinet members gave progress reports from within their specific campaigns, relaying the campaign’s fundraising goal, fundraising progress and campaign highlights. As of the meeting, the “Top 20” campaign, major firms campaign and small business campaign had all reached close to or more than 50 percent of their goal.

Some of the participating major firms boasted large increases in campaign contributions. JC Penney reported a 48 percent increase, Valley Proteins reported a 100 percent increase and United Bank reported a 139 percent increase after corporate dollar matching.

On the small business end, The Winchester Group President Gary Nichols said that the campaign is aiming for the “$100 x 100 Challenge” this year, where 100 small businesses with fewer than 25 employees would give $100 or more each. Nine businesses have confirmed their participation since the challenge was adopted earlier in the week.

Day of Caring Chair Lee Leonard announced that the kickoff Day of Caring event in September drew out a record-breaking 865 volunteers and thanked Rubbermaid for its cooperation and contribution of products for the special events campaign’s monthly sale.

Terry Sinclair said outreach efforts in Shenandoah County are redoubling this year with the help of volunteers in his report for the professionals campaign.

“More effort was made to bring them into the fold of what United Way is about in the Shenandoah Valley,” he said. “I’m amazed that we’re almost to 32 percent. … I think that’s a great start – the letters have only been out for a week and I think that’s a great response so far.”

With two months in the campaign down and two to go, United Way has raised a total of $591,961, almost 54 percent of its goal. At this time last year, the campaign had raised $625,986 toward a $1.13 million goal.

United Way President and CEO Nadine Pottinga said the nonprofit is optimistic about hitting its goal. This year’s campaign is the first one she will see to completion as CEO.

“These are all volunteers, these are all people who have very influential jobs in our community and they take their time out to advocate on our behalf and raise money,” she said. “I feel really lucky to have thenm as part of our team at United Way.”

United Way will hold its second public report meeting on Dec. 4 before finishing off the campaign and will hold the final meeting Jan. 8.

Contact staff writer Rachel Mahoney at 540-465-5137 ext. 164, or rmahoney@nvdaily.com