United Way about $800,000 short of $1.8 million campaign goal

Officials worry that many residents will go without if more donations aren’t made

As United Way officials tally up results of their 2009 campaign, they’re pretty sure they’ll need additional assistance in meeting their goal of $1.8 million.

So far they’ve received just more than $1 million in pledges, though they’re still waiting on employee campaign contributions to trickle in from 44 businesses, campaign officials said. Contributions are in from 101 groups, which include human service agencies and government entities.

In order to meet this year’s goal — the highest ever — campaign officials said more donations would likely be necessary.

“We really did set a high goal for us, and there have been some challenges,” said Colleen Gregoire, campaign manager and the agency’s local vice president.

Gregoire said business closings and ownership changes have made reaching the goal difficult, but organizers said they were confident it would be reached soon.

Helping meet the higher goal were city and county employees, as well as Lawrence Memorial Hospital workers, all of whom exceeded their campaign goals by 3 to 10 percent. Gregoire also said several new employee campaigns started this year.

The official campaign ended Friday, but donations are accepted all year, United Way organizers said, in making their final push for donations. Last year, more than $1.75 million was raised.

“We encourage anyone who has not yet made their tax-deductible contributions to give generously, to help those in need,” said Scot Buxton, who is chairing the campaign, along with his wife, Jane.

Donations are distributed in the spring to 24 local agencies that focus on three main areas: health, self-sufficiency, and family and children. A community impact grant is also awarded.

Information about how much donors pledged in workplace campaigns in Topeka and Kansas City will be received after the first of the year, Gregoire said. A total campaign amount would be announced later, she said.

Contributions can be made by contacting 843-6626 or uwcamp@unitedwaydgco.org. Online gifts are accepted at unitedwaydgco.org.