By Kelline Linton, Staff Writer
United Way of Abilene is finishing its 2007 United Way Campaign with ACU’s active involvement.
United Way is the largest charitable campaign in Abilene. It raises about $2 million each year, and the community uses 99 percent of those donations.
“Almost every penny raised stays right here,” said Bob Hunter, campaign chairman for United Way.
The Campaign has already raised $1.6 million, but this year’s total is expected to exceed last year’s sum, Hunter said. “We hope we can raise several million dollars because the more we raise, the more we can help,” Hunter said.
This year, ACU has already raised $37,058. This is comparable to the average contributions from the last six years, said Dr. Royce Money, president of the university. Total ACU donations will probably be around $38,000, he said.
“The ACU community is such a giving community,” he said.
The largest single donation from ACU in the past decade was $42,000. The 2007 Campaign will ideally reach its completion on Jan. 1, but may continue into the beginning of next year, Hunter said.
The donated funds will be used to meet five goals for West Central Texas: basic human needs for all citizens, student completion of high school and preparation for work or higher education, senior adults living independently and staying connected, families living self-sufficiently and neighborhoods providing safety and family-friendliness. This vision was formed from the results of a survey taken last summer when more than 1,000 people commented on Abilene, asking what matters most to them as citizens and what can be done to help the entire community, Hunter said.
The Campaign has 49 community partners, including YMCA Abilene, Noah Project and Boys and Girls Club of Abilene. These partners use donated funds to offer programs to the community that work to meet the vision’s five goals.
United Way’s three investment committees decide how to allocate donations to each organization to carry out this year’s goals.
United Way is pushing to re-assess how and why funds are distributed to different agencies “in an effort to guarantee the donor dollars are spent in the best way possible, and true community needs are met,” Money said. As times change, so does the United Way, he said.
“United Way is doing what matters most to our citizens,” Hunter said.
Hundreds of volunteers from the community are working on this year’s campaign. ACU students are active United Way interns, and ACU volunteers help community partners.
“The community efforts made by our college students are very important because we’re a big college town,” Hunter said.
Faculty and staff have annually donated to the cause. “[They] have generous hearts and believe in helping people,” Hunter said. “Our motto at ACU is ‘Caring, Serving, and Excelling,’ and that’s what we’ve always tried to do,” Hunter said.
ACU is annually recognized as a pacesetter for the campaign. Pacesetters are citizens who lead the way in donation contributions.
“They give the early campaign a big boost,” Hunter said. More than half a million dollars was raised by pacesetters at the start of this year’s campaign in early September.
Twenty-three Cornerstone awards were also dispersed at an honorary report luncheon on Nov. 20.
Cornerstone awards honors businesses whose entire employee staff participates in the campaign; churches, schools, businesses and government organizations were on the list.
Teachers from elementary and middle schools were some of the most active contributors with more than 70 percent donating last year.
Money donates to the campaign annually. “I am a big believer in United Way. It is a great way to give back to the community,” he said. Money was on the United Way board of directors for six years, and was the campaign chair for one.
“The campaign chair is the hardest volunteer job in Abilene because it is so complex and deals with thousands of gifts, but it is a great way to get to know Abilene,” Money said.
This year’s campaign chair, Bob Hunter, said he hopes the Campaign “lifts up the entire community from the youngest, most fragile little ones to the elderly.”
“Making one gift to the United Way will impact more than 50 community partners and reach a complete crosssection of the entire Abilene community,” Hunter said.