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United Way celebrates $1.3 million raised

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The United Way Campaign Cabinet reveals this year's pledge amount at the United Way of Etowah County Campaign Victory Celebration Thursday at Convention Hall. The total of pledges and contributions for the next year is just over $1.3 million.


By Katherine Poythress
Times Staff Writer


Published: Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 6:41 p.m.
Last Modified: Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 6:46 p.m.
The United Way of Etowah County celebrated raising more than $1.3 million during its annual fundraising drive with a luncheon Thursday afternoon.


The lighthearted event featured reports from each of 11 division leaders who oversaw the fundraising campaign within specified areas, such as education, industry, retail, government and health care professionals. Each of the division leaders said the amounts raised in their areas exceeded this year’s goals, and the dollars continued trickling in even during the victory celebration.


The overall amount raised as of 1 p.m. Thursday totaled $1,305,499, which exceeded the United Way's campaign goal by 3 percent, according to campaign chairman Todd Edmondson.


"That is better than we could have hoped for in this economy," Edmondson said. "What a challenging time to run a United Way campaign, but we are seeing more big-heartedness, more people united together than ever before. Our strength is in numbers, and our strength is in you."


The $1.3 million raised will go to support more than three dozen local organizations focused on meeting the physical, financial and educational needs of residents in Etowah County.


"This year we really focused on being generous and others-minded," said financial division leader Jenny Tunstall. "We've all been asked to reach into our pockets a little deeper, and I think we did that."


This fundraiser's highlights included tens of thousands in new dollars from the various divisions and new highs in participation, with Blue Cross Blue Shield employees leading the way in gifts at $945 per capita.


The industrial division contributed nearly half a million dollars, and People's Independent Bank reached 100 percent participation among its employees with its first-ever United Way rally.


In the education division, Striplin Elementary School exceeded its previous year's contributions by 110 percent, according to division leader Pam Clough.


The day's numbers could have been mind-boggling and boring, but moments of levity kept the good news in perspective. Like when Tunstall enlisted the help of her "loaned executives" Lee Cox, Jay Hedgspeth and Chris McGinnis to rap the financial division's reports - to challenge the popular perception of bankers as boring business people, she said.


After giving a breakdown of the $139,830 in contributions from banks and accountants, "Ice Lee" and Hedgspeth danced off the stage rapping, "You can take that right to the bank."


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