The United Way issued a challenge to the Hall County community, and area businesses rose to the occasion.
During a luncheon on Wednesday, United Way of Hall County officials announced the status of the organization’s 2008 fundraising campaign.
"When we set our campaign goal at ($2 million) we knew it was ambitious, especially considering the economy," said Darrell Snyder, 2008 campaign chairman for the United Way of Hall County.
"But Hall County is such a great community, everyone really came together to help us meet our goal and not only did we meet that goal, we exceeded it. In a difficult economy, others need your help more than ever and it’s important for us as a community to come together to offer assistance."
Through the donations of area residents and businesses, fundraising efforts topped the $2 million mark by more than $34,000.
During the luncheon, United Way officials also acknowledged the top 10 corporate contributors who, according to Snyder, helped raise 42 percent of the funds for the 2008 fundraising campaign. The top corporate campaign award went to Wrigley’s Manufacturing Co.
"We did a lot of fun fundraising like a fall festival for our employees. We also held a pie-throwing contest where employees could pay to throw a pie at the (upper level leadership)," said Larry Chitwood, Wrigley’s senior human resources manager.
"This is a good opportunity to give back to the community when we don’t always have the time to volunteer, so instead we can help raise money."
Like the majority of the other corporate contributors, Chitwood says a large portion of Wrigley’s donation came from pledged payroll deductions from company employees.
Cargill Inc. received the Chairman’s Award, which is given to the "company that demonstrates high campaign excellence and whose support extends far beyond the annual campaign giving."
To raise money for United Way, Cargill employees did things such as sponsoring a chili cook-off and creating a Men of Cargill calendar. Through their efforts, the company increased its United Way contributions from $22,000 to $84,000 in the past two years, Snyder said.
Despite the poor economy, the United Way was not only able to surpass its fundraising goal for 2008, the organization also was able to add 13 new companies to its roster of more than 100 corporate contributors.
The United Way of Hall County uses the money raised during its annual campaign to provide assistance to its partner agencies such as Alliance for Literacy, Good News Clinics and Teen Pregnancy Prevention.