Originally created 11/14/97

United Way surpasses goal



The rain didn't dampen the United Way of the CSRA's end of campaign celebration Thursday at Butler High School's gymnasium.

"This campaign is full of success stories," said Marty Lawrence, campaign chairman, in announcing that for the third consecutive year the United Way surpassed its fund-raising goal.

So far, the organization, which funds 30 health and human service agencies, has raised $3,909,529, passing its goal of $3.9 million. It expects more money to come in over the next few weeks, said Kelley Cornish, communications vice president.

The mood Thursday was quite different than at previous celebrations. Just two years ago, people who turned out for the victory celebration were concerned whether the organization could break through the $3 million barrier. For three years, the United Way raised just under that amount.

In 1995, the United Way under its new president Keith Benson raised more than $3 million and hasn't looked back.

"One million dollars in two years is quite an accomplishment," said Don Johnson, 1996 board chairman, remarking on the increase in the amount raised.

Teetering on the brink of $4 million is right where the charity wants to be. The organization has its sights set at breaking $5 million mark in the year 2000.

"This is a wonderful victory for the community. We did it together," Mr. Benson said. "This is theirs."

At the event, the United Way recognized several individuals and companies for outstanding efforts. Trophies were given to the two companies that had the highest percentage increases in campaigns of more than $10,000.

Columbia Augusta Medical Center received the bronze trophy with a 67 percent increase, and Augusta-Richmond County Government received the silver trophy with an 88 percent increase.

In another category, Bi-Lo Food Stores received the gold trophy for being the company with the largest dollar increase over last year. Its campaign brought in an extra $43,000 this year.