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The organization hopes this year to surpass its previous total, which was over $6.3 million.
Friday, August 23, 2013
United Way of Roanoke Valley officially kicked off its 2013 campaign on Thursday at the Roanoke Civic Center.
About 300 people came from all over the region to take part in the event's games and to hear about how far along they are in donations.
Last year the organization raised more than $6.3 million, up from the year before. They hope to raise the same amount or better this year, although they haven't set a public goal yet.
Thursday night United Way announced that $1.3 million has already been raised since July 4 through the Pacesetter campaign, an early effort to get the ball rolling. Twenty local companies and eight other organizations helped them reach this amount.
United Way President and CEO Frank Rogan said the main purpose of Thursday's event is to encourage people to give and reach out to people who don't usually give to causes.
He said people in the Roanoke Valley have been particularly generous over the years, even in times of economic downturn. He said Roanoke often beats other localities in the state when it comes to percentages of people giving.
"The secret is leadership," he said. "We have great leadership around the Roanoke Valley that encourage people to give."
He said the Pacesetter campaign gives them an early boost and allows them to set the bar high as they enter their traditional fall campaign .
United Way works to fund various programs in the area that support children's education, better people's mental and physical health and help people achieve financial stability.
One of their partner organizations is Smart Beginnings of Greater Roanoke, a non profit that focuses on early childhood education to help children prepare for kindergarten. Its program manager, Kris Meyers, said United Way is one of their major funders and they couldn't do what they do without their support. Smart Beginnings also provided entertainment for children during the two-hour event at the Roanoke Civic Center and set up a "play and learn zone."
Several hundred people competed in challenges testing their logic and athletic ability . The games were set up to get people more active, a mantra that goes along with United Way's good-health message.
United Way of Roanoke Valley has only about 15 employees, but about 1,000 volunteers help in the area. Student volunteers were also at the Thursday night kickoff to help with the games.
During the campaign numerous employers have their workers pledge donations, with the funds being deducted a little at a time from their paychecks. People can also contact United Way directly to donate .
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