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United Way preparing for 2013 campaign

LaKisha Bryant Bruce, CEO of United Way of Southwest Georgia, gives an update at the agency’s annual meeting on Monday. United Way raised just under $1.1 million during its 2012 campaign.

LaKisha Bryant Bruce, CEO of United Way of Southwest Georgia, gives an update at the agency’s annual meeting on Monday. United Way raised just under $1.1 million during its 2012 campaign.

ALBANY, Ga. -- With nearly $1.1 million collected from its 2012 campaign, the United Way of Southwest Georgia is gearing up for its next campaign cycle.

The agency hosted an annual meeting at its North Westover Boulevard office Monday afternoon, a program which included an awards presentation and an update on how the fundraising drives have been going.

The 2012 campaign total came out to be $1,097,041.29, just over the $1,081,078.24 collected the previous year. Despite the fact that this year's total was below United Way's $1.2 million goal, officials are optimistic about what the next few months will bring as the the time comes to kick off the 2013 campaign.

"This was a great year for us," said United Way CEO LaKisha Bryant Bruce. "We raised more than last year, and due to (internal) restructuring, we were able to put more money into the campaign.

"We hope to have a good year this year...It was a challenging year, but we are only looking for good things to come for many years."

The 2013 campaign is set to kick off in September, at which time the goal for the campaign will be announced, officials say.

The pacesetters, those that started raising funds ahead of the most recent campaign -- which began last September -- recognized on Monday were Target, UPS and Publix. The Albany Advocacy Resource Center was the recipient of the Community Campaign Partner Agency Award, while Albany Electric, MillerCoors, Coats & Clark and Procter & Gamble all received the Campaign Rejuvenation Award.

Belk, Albany Bank & Trust, F&W Forrestry and Albany Electric each received the Increased Giving Award. All four businesses had an increase in giving from the previous year of over 100 percent, with Belk having the largest increase at 387 percent, United Way officials said.

Publix and Phoebe Putney Memorial Hospital both received the Caring Connection Award. Procter & Gamble received the Community Ambassador Award for having contributed $290,000 to the most recent campaign.

Bruce said that preparations are currently under way to start up the upcoming campaign, which have included putting the organization in a mode to gather cabinet members and supplies.

This year, officials said the goal will be to increase visibility as well as revitalize campaigns throughout the agency's coverage area.

"We are going to do what we have been, we are just going to step it up," Bruce said.

Among the events coming, Bruce said, will be the "Stuff the Bus" drive as a means to collect school supplies for area schoolchildren -- which is scheduled to take place in July.

Also at Monday's meeting, it was announced that Perry Revell of AB&T Bank would be stepping down as the United Way board chair and that Rachelle Scott of Procter & Gamble, who had been serving as the vice chair, will be taking his place effective July 1.

The agency now covers 13 counties, which are Baker, Calhoun, Crisp, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Lee, Mitchell, Randolph, Sumter, Terrell, Wilcox and Worth.