The 2004 campaign surpassed the previous year's by more than $200,000.
AUSTINTOWN -- The Youngstown/Mahoning Valley United Way exceeded its 2004 campaign goal thanks to what officials say was a lot of hard work, a little luck and a boost from a Chevy Cobalt.
The announcement was made Friday at Greenwood Chevrolet in Austintown.
Tom Hollern, campaign chairman and area president of National City Bank, announced that the annual campaign is projected to raise $3,210,000, which is $10,000 more than its goal. The figure also represents an increase of $205,000 over the 2003 campaign.
"We deeply appreciate the support that the entire community has shown as we work to raise the funds necessary to support the vital programs of the funded agencies," he said.
Holleran noted that United Way funds 90 programs of 30 affiliated agencies, helping one out of every four people in the community.
"Clearly, the needs are great, and unfortunately, during difficult times, the demand for services provided by our agencies is even greater. The best way to help the most people and meet the widest range of community needs is by giving to our United Way," he said.
This was the second time Hollern has served as head of the United Way campaign. His first stint as campaign chair was in 1986, which he said was certainly not easy, but the challenges were clearly different.
He said that at the time there were a number of corporate headquarters in Youngstown and a larger employee base.
"Today, the real thrust of the campaigning involves a large group of volunteers going to smaller employers in the community to give people the opportunity to take part. You have to get out and shake the bushes," Hollern said.
Don Cagigas, United Way president, thanked Hollern and his team of volunteers for going the distance in the recent campaign. He said even though the effort was successful, it was a struggle to meet and exceed the goal.
"If not for the hard work of a core group of volunteers, a number of special gifts, and quite frankly, a little luck, we would not have been able to reach our goal," Cagigas said.
Part of that luck may have emerged last spring when Greg Greenwood of Greenwood Chevrolet in Austintown agreed to donate a 2005 Chevrolet Cobalt, the new model produced at the General Motors Lordstown plant, to the United Way as an incentive for contributors.
Those giving a minimum contribution of $2 per week or a total annual gift of $104 will be eligible for a drawing to win the Cobalt at the annual meeting on April 27.
Greenwood said the Cobalt "offered a unique premium for individuals to get involved in United Way giving."
Hollern said the Cobalt drawing gave the campaign some extra pizazz that it hasn't had in past years, yet Cagigas, who was grateful for the additional boost it gave the campaign in 2004, warned that such an attractive incentive may not always be available.
"I hope it doesn't take an incentive every year to get people to realize that they should be giving something back to the community," Cagigas said.
He emphasized that the Cobalt drawing did create a new awareness of United Way, and he is hopeful that those new givers or those who increased the contributions this time around will continue to contribute in the future.
Cagigas the final allocations to the agencies will be approved by the board of directors on March 30 and agencies will be notified in early April.
He said this year there is an open designation policy, which allowed contributors to earmark their donation to a specific United Way-funded agency. The money from the open designations comes right off the top of funds raised, and those funds remaining will then be divided among the agencies.
Meanwhile, JoAnn Stock, director of marketing and resource development, said that those interested can make that $104 donation until April 1, which will make them eligible to have their name entered into the Cobalt drawing.