United Way raises bar

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Megan Gray/DRC
An estimated crowd of 350 came out to show their support Friday during the United Way of Denton County’s annual campaign kick-off luncheon at The Mill in Denton. The non-profit organization, hopes to bring in 10 percent more than the more than $2 million raised during last year’s campaign.
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New goal outlined during annual campaign kickoff luncheon

The United Way of Denton County was able to help more than 55,000 people through its partner agencies last year, officials told about 350 supporters gathered for the agency’s annual campaign kickoff luncheon Friday at The Mill.

Donations last year topped more than $2 million, Gary Henderson, president and CEO, said, and as this year’s campaign gets underway, officials are hoping to improve on that total.

“Our goal is to at least exceed 10 percent of what was previously raised in order to maintain the assistance we have been providing,” Henderson said.

In Denton County, one in five people live at the poverty level. Be it school supplies, a meal or counseling, United Way of Denton County tries to assist with community needs as efficiently as possible, board members said during the luncheon.

The United Way of Denton County, a nonprofit organization, works through more than 20 community partners, including school districts, area businesses and faith-based organizations, officials said, and the campaign that began Friday will support their efforts.

“Workplace campaign drives and individual donations attribute to 90 percent of our fundraising,” Henderson said. “From now until Dec. 31, we will be actively working with our community organizations to bring in the necessary funds needed to take care of our county.”

Among the achievements of the past year, Henderson said, was getting more volunteers to help with the VITA (Volunteer Income Tax Assistance) program. The program partners with the Internal Revenue Service as a nonprofit tax center for low-income families.

Greg Sawko, the 2013 campaign chairman, said the VITA program doubled the number of assistance centers across the county with the increased volunteers and new partnerships with the city of Sanger, Sanger school district and Vision Ministries in Denton.

The organization, Henderson said, is looking to educate more families on budgeting and provide second-chance checking with BankOn, a new program set to launch Sept. 1.

“We have been working closely with about 70 agencies to launch the first program of its kind in Denton County,” he said.

According to Charity Navigator, United Way gives back more than 90 cents from each dollar contributed.

After the campaigns close, the amount raised will be announced in January.

MEGAN GRAY can be reached at 940-566-6885 and via Twitter at @MGrayNews.


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