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United Way gearing up for kickoff of campaign


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United Way of Bartholomew County will launch its 2014 campaign with a call for donations — of time and effort.

The nonprofit organization would like to recruit more than 500 volunteers for its kickoff Sept. 11, known in the nonprofit world as the National Day of Service and Remembrance. United Way leaders say volunteers often become money in the bank for its 26 agencies supporting more than 30 programs.

“People tend to more strongly support what they’ve actually put their hands on,” said United Way President Mark Stewart. “We have found that the more they know about United Way, the more they have an appreciation for our work.”

And the more they are inclined to financially support that work, Stewart said. The 2013 United Way campaign ended early this year with a record fundraising total of $4,079,484, which translated to a state-leading per-capita giving rate of $52.90.

United Way leaders plan to announce soon the organization’s next fundraising target.

The upcoming campaign kickoff will include a day of service fundraising lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. at Amazing Joe’s Grill, 2607 Central Ave. in Columbus.

Moreover, website independentsector.org, a national leadership network for charities, estimates that every hour of volunteer time is worth $18.72 to an agency.

Angie Huebel, Volunteer Action Center director, put that into perspective simply.

“Volunteering is just like writing a check,” Huebel said. “But when you volunteer, you also get a good, direct sense of helping someone.”

Available volunteer opportunities for the day of service range from cleaning littered, downtown alleys to painting classrooms at Children Inc. child development agency.

The day’s plans already have attracted more than 375 volunteers, Huebel said.

A record turnout during the three-hour fundraising lunch is possible, said Jan Harris, United Way Director of Resource Development. But she wants it to be about an appetite for helping others more than just a time for food.

“We hope people will spend time at the lunch talking about the volunteer work they’re going to do that day or what they’ve already done,” Harris said.

She also sees the volunteer effort beyond the scope of a helping hand or a few good deeds — especially when it comes to companies encouraging workers to give time and assistance for the sake of others.

“When employees and management feel they are working for a company that has a conscience and passion to make a difference, they will likely be more enthusiastic and engaged at their job,” Harris said. “This builds a sense of community and teamwork in the office as well as in the communities in which they live.”

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