The United Way of Douglas County celebrates $1.2 million in pledges.
The total was supposed to be $1,188,693, but when United Way supporters gathered at the Union Pacific Depot in North Lawrence for a victory celebration, drive chair Joan Golden had a surprise.
With a red pen, Golden crossed out the original total and replaced it with the new tally: $1.2 million. A last-minute donation from Sallie Mae raised the pledge contributions.
"This is a culmination of a lot of effort on the many volunteers' parts to generate enthusiasm for the United Way," Golden said. "This insures that all of the services can continue."
The United Way acts as an umbrella agency for 30 Douglas County community help organizations. The United Way campaign is the major source of funding for many of the agencies.
Although the victory celebration marked the end of the campaign, Golden said it's not officially over until mid-December.
"We want people who may not have been reached to know that they can still give," she said. "We don't close the books until mid-December; then we see how much we have and how much we can give to the agencies."
The year's total was more than 3.2 percent higher than 1996, thanks in part to a stable economy, United Way of Douglas County Executive Director Barb Reavis said.
"We had more (contributors) at the Leadership Level, which is $500, for the first time," she said.
Business and industry sectors provided the greatest contributions, followed by direct mail and Kansas University.
"The employees campaign has been the bread and butter for the campaign for a long time," Reavis said. "It's with the concept of everyone giving a little bit that we can be successful, and that's what has been done this year."
For Garry Fister, a Sallie Mae employee who has worked on the campaign full-time for the past 15 weeks as a "loaned executive," the celebration marked the end of a successful run.
"I received more than I gave," he said. "It was well worth it."
Planning for the 1998 campaign begins in January.