The United Way of Douglas County's official fall fundraising campaign ended Friday, but that doesn't mean the giving will stop.
The organization set a campaign goal of $1.72 million and hopes to increase Douglas County residents' participation from 6.5 percent to 10 percent. The United Way has received about half of the pledges from area employee campaigns as of Friday.
"We still have many companies that are conducting their campaigns, and I think that will happen until the end of December," said 2008 campaign chairwoman Judy Wright. "So, yes, it is officially the end of the campaign, but people are still making pledges toward their United Way gifts, and we're very excited about that."
Pledge information from donors who participate in their workplace campaign in either Topeka or Kansas City will be received in early January. The slogan for this fall's campaign was "United Way begins with U" to encourage more people to give.
The United Way has made efforts to reach businesses and residents not previously involved with campaigns.
"We're not asking (businesses) to give more than they have in the past, but we're asking more people to give," Wright said.
Contributions to the campaign will be allocated to 25 United Way partner agencies in spring 2009. Agencies include Big Brothers Big Sisters, Douglas County AIDS Project and Meals on Wheels.
Meals on Wheels serves 129 people in Lawrence and delivers 120 meals each day. Executive director Kim Culliss said the organization receives just a little more than $27,000 from the United Way.
"It is a large chunk of our budget," she said.
In 38 years, Meals on Wheels has never turned away a person in need, Culliss said. She has recently seen a "huge increase" in the number of people the organization delivers meals to and expects the number to grow because of hard times.
Another partner agency, Douglas County Visiting Nurses, Rehabilitation and Hospice Care (VNA), receives about $95,000 from the United Way each year. VNA provides care to ill or disabled people to allow them to remain in their homes, and offers therapy and hospice services.
Clinical manager Janet Cairns said funding from the United Way is extremely important for VNA.
"It allows us to never turn down a referral," she said. VNA receives funding from private donors and Douglas County, as well.
Cairns is also concerned about how the current economy will affect funding.
"We're a very Medicare-dependent agency, and it's always concerning, especially with this economy problem, that ... our Medicare funding could be reduced," she said. "That would be a huge hit for us."