The United Way of Greater Texarkana celebrated the conclusion of a successful fundraising campaign Friday at Williams Memorial United Methodist Church. This year's campaign brought in $731,705, well short of the $900,000 goal, but still enough to make a significant difference in the lives of people in need in this community.
"It was a tough year. Thankfully the larger corporations were able to come through for us because a lot of the smaller industries seemed like they'd tightened their belts a little bit," said Mark Bledsoe, United Way president/CEO.
This year's campaign brought approximately $9,000 less than last year's total.
"We're not giving up. We still have a few campaigns that haven't wrapped up yet so we think it's too close to call," Bledsoe said.
More than 99 percent of the money collected by the United Way stays in this area and is used to fund programs aimed at improving education, health and economic stability.
"Texarkana it's a great community to live in. We often say our community takes care of one another," Bledsoe said.
The top campaign contributors were recognized at the breakfast. This year's top contributor was Cooper Tire and Rubber Co. & United Steel Works, 752L who contributed more than $141,000. That money was raised in several ways including proceeds from a bass tournament and fish fry, employee and corporate contributions.
CHRISTUS St. Michael Health System was the next highest donor followed by International Paper, Red River Federal Credit Union and the Combined Federal Campaign.
Rounding out the top 10 in alphabetical order are Domtar, Mayo Manufacturing, National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisors, Offenhauser & Company and Wadley Regional Medical Center.
"Those top 10 contributors make up close to 70 percent of our campaign. It's critical for us. We couldn't do it without the group represented today," Bledsoe said.
During the breakfast the United Way received a $7,000 donation from the Live United Bowl committee.
"We're not satisfied with the amount of money we've been able to raise so far," said Allen Brown, who helped start the Live United Bowl. "We think we have potential to be the biggest donor to the campaign."
Plans are already underway for next year's Live United Bowl.
"It's already rocking and rolling," Brown said. "Our game this year will be Dec. 2.
During the campaign celebration outgoing board members were recognized and incoming board members were sworn in.
Jennifer and Craig Harland, both employed with AEP SWEPCO, were announced as the campaign co-chairs for the 2018 campaign and Terry Sloan will continue into his second year as United Way board chairman.
The process to determine where money from this year's campaign goes will start within the next 30 days.
"We will get the word out when the application process is open. Once the announcements are made they'll have 30 days. It's going to be all electronic this year which is kind of new but we're excited about it," Bledsoe said.
For more information about the United Way or to make a donation to the campaign call the office at 903-794-3105.