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Residents show their support

Way to go, Denton County residents — thanks to your generosity, a lot of important needs in the community will be met during the coming months.

Officials with the United Way of Denton County announced Saturday that the nonprofit agency’s 2013 campaign raised more than $2.2 million and credited the support of dedicated volunteers and more than 9,500 donors for the outstanding contribution total.

A lot of folks across the area depend on the services provided by United Way partner agencies — Denton County Friends of the Family, Big Brothers Big Sisters, Fred Moore Day Nursery School and many more — and a dedicated team of folks from all walks of life have been working hard to make sure that those services would be available.

Their efforts were recognized Saturday night by campaign chairman Greg Sawko and other United Way officials at the agency’s United TRIBUTE event.

Last year, the nonprofit organization broke a record by raising more than $2 million, and this year’s total raised the bar even higher.

Gary Henderson, president and CEO of United Way of Denton County, said officials are pleased with the more than 7 percent increase in funds over last year. Thirty allocation volunteers have already completed their initial site visits to each of the 20 community organizations United Way partners with to provide assistance each year.

We add our sincere thanks on a job well done to all who supported this year’s United Way campaign. Your unselfish contributions will help make a big difference in many lives.

We also join with United Way officials in congratulating those who received five key awards:

Creating Lasting Change Award: This award went to the Denton school district for increasing its fundraising campaign by nearly 40 percent this year.

Advancing the Common Good Award: Denton Regional Medical Center won this award — not only for growing its 2013 campaign but finding other ways to support the organization, including in-kind donations and employee volunteerism.

Live United Award: This award went to Little Elm — it may have been the town’s first year to take part in the campaign, but people got involved and made it a success.

Better Tomorrow Award: The University of North Texas won this award for its focus on community engagement in creating a United Way Student Leadership Organization, recognized by United Way Worldwide, a first in North Texas. In addition, UNT accounts for eight out of every 10 Mentor Denton volunteers.

Chairman’s Choice Award: Peterbilt Motors Co. won this award for bringing in $392,239 — the most raised during the 2013 campaign.

“It’s a year of tedious work, but for someone to decide to make their philanthropic donations here and keep them in their own backyard really makes the difference and all the hard work poured in by our volunteers worth it,” Henderson said.

This year’s campaign was certainly cause for celebration, but we can’t afford to rest on our laurels. We need to stay focused and raise more than ever before. In spite of generous support, officials tell us that the monies raised still don’t cover all the needs in the county.

According to a recent needs assessment conducted by the local United Way, nearly one in three Denton County children is at risk of dropping out of school, nearly 100,000 county residents are food insecure, and as many as one out of every four households in the county experiences financial instability.

Yes, the need is great, but we are confident that your compassion and generosity are even greater.

Thanks for being such good neighbors.