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United Way aims to raise $1.2 million

LaKisha Bryant Bruce, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Georgia, gives remarks at the agency’s campaign kick-off luncheon Thursday. This year, United Way is aiming to raise $1.2 million. (staff photo: Jennifer Parks)

LaKisha Bryant Bruce, president and CEO of United Way of Southwest Georgia, gives remarks at the agency’s campaign kick-off luncheon Thursday. This year, United Way is aiming to raise $1.2 million. (staff photo: Jennifer Parks)

ALBANY — The 2013 campaign drive for the United Way of Southwest Georgia officially began Thursday with a fundraising kick-off at the Hilton Garden Inn.

The event was sold out with more than 300 people attending, beating the attendance for last year’s launch, officials at United Way said. It included testimonials from those who have benefited from funding, as well as an appearance from “Captain United.”

This year, the campaign goal is $1.2 million — which comprises the agency’s campaign and a combined federal campaign. The funding, officials say, goes to benefit United Way partner programs provided by roughly 20 non-profit agencies, including Boys & Girls Club of Albany, Dougherty County Family Literacy, Liberty House, Open Arms, Samaritan Clinic, Second Harvest of South Georgia, Salvation Army and YMCA of Albany.

The mission of the organization, officials say, is to improve lives by mobilizing the caring power of communities and, in so doing, working to advance the common good by strengthening the four components needed for quality of life, which are education, income, basic needs and health.

“This is not just about giving money, it’s about giving them (people) a sustainable life,” LaKisha Bryant Bruce, United Way president and CEO, said at the luncheon. “By focusing on these building blocks, we are building a stronger community and a more stable community.

” … The measure of United Way is not just the fundraising campaign. The measure is that we are all living united … that the community has issues we need to come together to solve. I invite you to be a part of the change and be the change you want to see. It takes an entire community to make a difference. Let’s not just make our goal; let’s beat our goal.”

For this fundraising cycle, there are five pacesetter companies that have already begun their campaigns — Target, UPS, Publix, Georgia Power and Procter & Gamble. Target has raised $4,000, UPS has raised $16,000, Publix has raised $31,000, Georgia Power has raised $13,000 and P&G has raised $40,000.

Those numbers bring the total amount raised so far in the this year’s campaign to $104,000.

The 2012 campaign goal was also $1.2 million, $100,000 more than was raised the previous year. The actual fundraising total came to $1,097,041.29 — slightly over the $1,081,078.24 raised the year before — including the funds from the combined federal campaign.

The pacesetters for the previous campaign included Target, UPS and Publix.

United Way of Southwest Georgia serves 13 counties — Baker, Calhoun, Crisp, Dooly, Dougherty, Early, Lee, Mitchell, Randolph, Sumter, Terrell, Wilcox and Worth.