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Hall County United Way exceeds goal with $1.8M
United Way Board chairwoman says community joined together to make it happen
Davis White, 2010 United Way of Hall County campaign chairman, talks about volunteer efforts Wednesday during the year-end celebration luncheon at the Gainesville Civic Center. The local nonprofit organization surpassed its 2010 fundraising goal and raised more than $1.8 million. - photo by SARA GUEVARA

Davis White longed to answer the question everyone in the room wanted to ask: How much did the United Way of Hall County raise?

So he moved off the stage to direct his crew of nine volunteers.

They each held small poster boards printed mostly with numbers. The men and women arranged themselves at first, in the wrong order of course.

The 2010 United Way of Hall County campaign chairman, wearing a smile on his face, quickly corrected them. He moved the numbers until the figure read: $1,842,900.

Then the volunteers flipped the cards they held. The letters displayed said, "Live United."

"We surpassed our goal," White said.

About 300 people applauded from their seats at the Gainesville Civic Center, where the 2010 Year End Celebration and Volunteer Recognition highlighted the fruits of a fundraising campaign started last September.

The total amount raised exceeded the goal by about $43,000.

Publix Super Markets led the campaign, collecting $214,805 in pledges. Northeast Georgia Health System contributed the second highest total with its $124,931.71 contribution. Cargill followed with $112,476.

United Way Board Chairwoman Carol Burrell, who is interim CEO at Northeast Georgia Health System, thanked everyone involved in the campaign, which succeeded despite continued economic challenges.

"Both individually and collectively, this community has truly embraced our call to give, to advocate, to volunteer," Burrell said. She added praise for White, president of Full Media, who led the campaign.

"He never lost sight of the goal. We measured success by numbers," Burrell said.

"But he knew it truly meant so much more than that."

In a similar spirit, White and Burrell singled out one Gainesville business, Conditioned Air Systems, for its total dedication to the cause.

The family-owned company ranked 10th in giving with $34,272. That figure was $10,000 more than its donation the previous year, Burrell said, and involved 100 percent participation.

Additionally, Conditioned Air employees are represented in a number of United Way leadership positions and donor categories.

"Conditioned Air Systems believes in improving lives in Hall County," she said.

As part of the event, Burrell turned over the nonprofit's board leadership to the incoming United Way Chairman Darrell Snyder, who represents Georgia Power Co.

"My hope and prayer for the upcoming year is that everyone takes their blessings, talents and gifts you've been given and that you will use those to bless someone in the year ahead," he said.