United Way edging closer to goal

12/3/2013

Campaign sitting at 90 percent of goal at $510,000.

Campaign sitting at 90 percent of goal at $510,000.

By SCOTT AUST

saust@gctelegram.com

So far, the 2014 United Way fundraising campaign has raised about $501,000, which is about 90 percent of the campaign goal of $560,000.

"We're about to get there. We'll see how it goes. It's always that last little bit you need," Susan Escareno, United Way executive director, said.

It's Escareno's first campaign since being named executive director, but she feels good about where the campaign is heading into the final month of the drive. This year's campaign began Aug. 16 and will end Dec. 31.

"I feel like we're doing really well. We still have several businesses that we don't have their pledges in, but I think we're doing well. It just makes me nervous trying to get that last $60,000 in," Escareno said.

Liz Scheopner, United Way campaign drive chairman, said the campaign is right on track compared to previous years.

"We're slightly ahead, just three or four percentage points maybe," Scheopner said. "I think it's been an excellent drive. A lot of companies have come in way ahead of previous years. Unfortunately, some have come in a little under. But in the end, it's all going to make up quite a bit of the difference I think."

Escareno said some of the major donors so far include Tyson Fresh Meats, which has pledged $221,174, including the company's base pledge and a 25 percent match of employee contributions; Palmer Manufacturing/Worthington Industries, $17,000 so far; the city of Garden City, $20,510; and Finney County, $17,765.

"Those are some of the bigger ones," Escareno said. "We have a number of others. It helps tremendously."

Escareno said some pledges are down from a few businesses, something she credits to people being worried about the health insurance issue.

"They don't know what's going to come out of their checks yet. They're so uncertain about what's going to happen after the first of the year. I totally understand that. You've got to take care of your family first. So that's been a struggle for some places," she said.

Escareno said the United Way will be making phone calls and sending letters to places they've been before during a final push this month to reach the campaign goal.

"Hopefully, we'll get close," she said.

Scheopner said the campaign officially ends Dec. 31, and like past years, there will be some pledges that roll in after that date. Unlike past years, however, those pledges won't officially count in this year's campaign, which could make it appear that the agency fell short. Scheopner believes the remaining roughly $60,000 will be raised.

"I'm very optimistic. As always, Finney County residents come through well for us. We will definitely make it, though unofficially it might not look like we do," she said. "It sounds like a lot, but it's doable. I have confidence. We've always done it, and we will do it again."

The 25 partner agencies for the 2014 campaign include: Miles of Smiles; Real Men, Real Leaders; Russell Child Development Center; Santa Fe Trail Council - Boy Scouts of America; Seeds of Hope Jail Ministry; Southeast Asian Mutual Assistance Association; Building Blocks Project through Russell Child Development Center; Spirit of the Plains - CASA, Inc.; St. Catherine Hospital - Lactation Program; United Methodist Mexican - American Ministries; The Salvation Army; United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas; Garden City Recreation Commission - Playground Program; Big Brothers Big Sisters of Finney & Kearny Counties; Catholic Social Service; Circles of Hope; Community Day Care Center, Inc.; Family Crisis Services, Inc.; Finney County Retired Senior Volunteer Program; Garden City Area Chapter of the American Red Cross; Garden City Family YMCA; Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland; Habitat for Humanity; Kansas Children's Service League; Meals on Wheels.

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