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Guest column: Community answers call to live united, surpasses goal
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Take action. That has been United Way of Hall County's message this year.

Individually and collectively, this community truly embraced our call to take action and to give, advocate and volunteer.

Last summer, you helped students start school prepared and confident by donating school supplies to the School Tools for Cool Kids campaign. This partnership with our local Publix Super Markets supplied over 82 boxes of supplies with an estimated value of $15,000 to both Gainesville and Hall County schools.

In September, we launched the fall campaign following a very successful Cornerstone campaign. In October, United Way invested $25,000 in the Hall County community through grants made from the J. Cleon Nalley Educational Fund to four local agencies: Boys and Girls Clubs of Hall County, The Guest House, Health Access Initiative and Good News Clinics.

Our Young Leaders Society has flourished. We hosted six Conversations with Leaders events and participated in a number of volunteer projects. Through this group, our next generation of leadership is learning how to take action and live united.

In honor of their philanthropy, the Young Leaders Society planted a tree at the United Way office in recognition of members of United Way's Tocqueville Society. These individuals and families support United Way at the very highest level by contributing $10,000 or more each year. The tree will serve as a constant reminder of how deep the roots of generosity are in this community.

Our partner agencies provide critical health and human services to the residents of Hall County every day. United Way is very proud of the fact that despite the economic pressures of the past couple of years, we have not decreased our financial support of these agencies.

Without a doubt, there is no way the staff at United Way could ever accomplish so much without the many dedicated and committed volunteers who contribute their time and talent to the organization. Last year, approximately 200 individuals gave more than 1,600 hours serving on the board or another committee, raising and distributing the financial resources or helping us get our message out.

Our goal for this year's campaign was set in July at $1.8 million. In January, when more than the weather was bleak, we asked you to support Double Your Dollars. This effort helped us climb further than we had even hoped. In the end, we surpassed our goal; we raised $1,841,900.

Thanks to all of you for giving, advocating and volunteering over the past year. Your support has been felt throughout the campaign, and your effort will be felt throughout the community.

I'm humbled by this community. I'm in awe of your ability to live united. Please know that your efforts are making an impact on improving lives of those that live in Hall County each and every day.

Carol Burrell is interim CEO, executive vice president and chief operating officer for Northeast Georgia Health System. She also is chairwoman of the 2010 United Way of Hall County Board of Directors.