The United Way of Greater Texarkana kicked off its 2019-20 fundraising campaign Monday at Texas A&M University-Texarkana. A&M-Texarkana President Dr. Emily Cutrer and husband, Dr. Thomas Cutrer, a professor at the university, will co-chair the campaign.
The goal for this year's campaign is $900,000, the same as last year, which brought in close to $800,000.
The United Way has gotten a headstart on the campaign thanks to its Pacesetter program.
"We're already at about 10% due to our Pacesetter campaigns. Pacesetter campaigns are offices or businesses that have started their campaign prior to our campaign kickoff and all of those are coming in a little ahead of last year, which is a good sign," said Mark Bledsoe, United Way President/CEO.
Signs are already looking good for this year's fundraising effort in other areas.
"Cooper Tire was the top contributor last year and they're already anticipating raising more money than they did last year," Bledsoe said. "We're also anticipating being able to get into a couple of larger corporations that we haven't been able to get into before. We've gotten the okay from their headquarters. We're just waiting on setting a date. That's good news if we're able to get into markets we haven't been able to get into in the past."
During the campaign, volunteers visit area businesses and tell them about the programs supported by United Way funds and the impact those agencies are making on the community.
"I'm excited about it. If we keep working hard and if people understand where the dollars are going and that it's neighbors helping neighbors, then they don't mind helping out. We encourage folks to call us if they want to see any of the programs and we'll set that up," he said.
Agencies who receive funds from the United Way are visited quarterly by a community impact team comprised of volunteers to make sure the supported programs are accomplishing what they're supposed to be accomplishing.
"We have to be good stewards of those gifts or we'll lose the community's trust," Bledsoe said.
The United Way focuses on funding programs that enhance education, health or income with a focus on long-term results.
"I think these funds have a long-lasting impact. That's what we've been striving for," Bledsoe said. "We've been trying to go more toward education in all the programs. They may have some element of health or income but we still want some education included. We think that is more impact than a quick-fix program. If we're going to make difference and break the cycle it has to be with education and for long-term solutions."
For more information about the United Way campaign or to request a presentation for a business or group, call 903-794-3105.