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United Way raised $1.5 million in 2013
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Campaign Chairwoman for United Way of Hall County Melissa Tymchuk shows the dollar bill that has been passed down to each campaign chair since Davis White began the tradition by giving it to Brian Daniel. The chairs are, from left, Brian Daniel, Davis White, Tymchuck, David Abee and Philip Wilheit Jr. Abee jokingly told the audience his kids tried numerous times to get him to spend the dollar. - photo by NAT GURLEY

Top 10 companies

Those who raised the most money for United Way in 2013-14

Publix Super Markets: $254,554

Northeast Georgia Health System: $142,217

Fieldale Farms Corp.: $107,104

Cargill Inc.: $73,993

Wrigley: $66,009

Hall County School District: $62,598

Conditioned Air Systems Co.: $49,113

Wilheit Packaging Material: $46,344

United Parcel Service: $44,560

Gainesville City School System: $43,017

Source: United Way of Hall County

Raising more than $1.5 million in this economy is reason enough to celebrate.

But United Way of Hall County President and Chief Professional Officer Jackie Wallace said the organization’s Annual Celebration and Volunteer Recognition event is about much more than a successful fundraising campaign.

The annual event was scheduled in April this year in honor of National Volunteer Month and was held Wednesday afternoon at the Gainesville Civic Center.

Wallace said the goal of the campaign is to ultimately make the community a better place through funding local organizations and “connecting the community.”

“I love this event,” Wallace said, to those in attendance. “It allows us to recognize and celebrate the many ways you give, you advocate and you volunteer.”

The $1,557,490 raised through the annual campaign will fund 49 programs in 26 community organizations. Donations were provided by 223 companies and numerous individuals within those companies.

David Abee, the 2013 United Way campaign chairman, praised the many donors, from the students of Gainesville and Hall County school systems who gave the “coins from their pockets,” to the companies that donated tens of thousands of dollars.

“I really recognized this year that it takes every contributor, every donor, every individual and every company to get to our goal to make a difference and advance our mission in United Way,” Abee said.

Abee presented awards to the companies that raised the most money and presented the annual Chairman’s Award to the Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce for its consistent support.

Abee said the chamber has had 100 percent employee participation in the organization and campaign for the last five years.

Kit Dunlap, executive director of The Greater Hall Chamber of Commerce, said she was surprised by the honor but believes each of the chamber’s staff members have a deep understanding of the program’s benefits because of their close work with community organizations.

“We’ve always admired what United Way does,” Dunlap said. “It does your heart good to see all the giving back and all the thankfulness from all the people that it helps. It’s not me, it’s the chamber staff who have helped in so many ways. “Whether that’s asking for contributions or playing a part on the board, we’re just thankful and glad to be a partner with United Way always.”

Kelly Lee, United Way of Hall County board chairwoman, also praised the volunteers who contributed time and effort during the last year.

Lee highlighted the growth and success of United Way initiatives such as the School Tools for Cool Kids School Supply Drive, the Adopt a Backpack program that provided students with donated school supplies and a new early learning program called Read Learn and Succeed to encourage reading in preschool and kindergarten students.

“The United Way today is much different than my parents’ and my grandparents’ United Way,” Lee said. “As our community is evolving, we too are evolving to meet the needs of our community head-on and proactively.”