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November 16, 2018
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United Way raises $1.12M for 2017-2018 campaign

By Tia Lyons
This article was published January 24, 2018 at 5:00 a.m.

The United Way of Union County hit its first $1 million fundraising mark in 2013 and has continued the trend ever since.

It was no different for the 2017 - 2018 campaign. Though the total dipped from the previous two years, — a record high of $1.3 million was recorded in 2015 —, United Way and the community still rallied together to far exceed the seven-figure standard that was set four years ago.

Riding on the theme of “Give Where You Live,” the United Way held its annual meeting Tuesday and celebrated the 2017 - 2018 fundraising campaign of more than $1.12 million.

“We had an excellent year,” Alexis Alexander announced near the start of the meeting.

The event also served as an opportunity to recognize volunteers, corporate partners and the support of the community to help people in a number of capacities in El Dorado and Union County.

Alexander, executive director of the United Way, touched on several highlights from 2017, including:

• Power of the Purse: A fundraiser for Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library Union County that raises thousands of dollars to provide free books for children in the community.

The fundraising event included a fashion show and silent auction with designer handbags.

Alexander said Tuesday that more than 1,000 books have been mailed to children throughout the county, adding that there are more than 1,300 participants.

She said 1,500 children have aged out of the program since it was launched in 2011 to address childhood literacy in Union County.

Union County children from birth to 5 years old are eligible for the program.

• Hallowienerpawlooza was held last October and featured wiener dog races and other Halloween activities that were hosted by United Way’s partner agencies.

• Business Blitz: Loaned executives paired with United Way agency representatives and visited small businesses September to solicit donations for the 2017 - 2018 campaign.

Combined, loaned executives and agency representatives made up 13 teams of volunteers who visited 250 area businesses and brought in a one-day total of more than $12,000.

The Loan Executive Program enables employees to see firsthand the needs in the community and how United Way strives to meet those needs.

• Loaned executives also led 70-plus volunteers from local businesses in the Celebration of Caring.

The groups spent a day volunteering on special projects for several United Way member agencies.

Some partner agencies are Court Appointed Special Advocates, the Boys and Girls Club of El Dorado, Salvation Army, the Literacy Council of Union County, Turning Point and Hope Landing.

“Union County is very fortunate to have such generous support of both business and individuals who will share their time, talents and resources to improve our community,” Alexander said Tuesday.

The organization originally began in 1933 as the El Dorado Community Chest and became the United Way of Union County in 1962.

Since 1950, United Way of Union County has raised nearly $35 million to invest in fulfilling its mission of focusing on the underlying causes of the most serious problems in the community it serves.

Along with volunteers Tuesday, Alexander also gave a shout-out to donors of United Way.

“Their contributions to this campaign will impact many lives in Union County for years to come and help United Way to partner with agencies that can bring lasting change for the better,” she said.

“The people of Union County are extremely generous and always willing to lend a hand,” Alexander continued. “We can’t thank them enough for their support again that led to another million-dollar year.”

She also acknowledged the United Way Allocation Committee.

“They worked hard to distribute (funds) to help the community,” Alexander said.

In other business Tuesday, the United Way board elected new members for 2018.

They are: Ashley Nale, Entergy; Bethany Gaddy, Regions Bank; Bob Tarren, Murphy Arts District; Katina Buzbee, BancorpSouth; Lance Clark, Jan’s Realty; Mindy West, Murphy USA; and Rhonda Murry, Southern Bancorp.

Officers for 2017 include, President Ryan Regan, El Dorado Chemical; Vice President Seth Bennett, Nexans Amercable; and Treasurer Evelyn Wade Morris, First Financial Bank.

Retiring board members included Veronica Creer, Pam Griffin, Christy Gunter, Melody Morrow and Shari Terry.

Tia Lyons may be contacted at 870-862-6611 or by email at tlyons@eldoradonews.com.

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