The United Way campaign for 2007 reached the halfway mark on Friday, Oct. 5, and campaign chair Dave Bennett said committees had raised 52.8 percent of their goal of $2,125,000.
“At the midway point, I’m happy to say we’re at $1,135,558, which is 52.8 percent,” Bennett said. “The hard work starts now. Before we blink, it will be Nov. 16.”
Nov. 16 is the final scheduled day of the campaign. The halfway luncheon was held at the Life Events Center just off East Lamar Alexander Parkway. In the days since the Oct. 5 luncheon, committee members have continued working to secure pledges. As of Oct. 9, $1,168,205 or 54.3 percent of the final goal had been raised, United Way of Blount County communications director Aaron Killian said.
Oct. 5 was also the annual Gas Day fundraiser. Twelve locations serviced by Calloway Oil Co., Downey Oil Co. and McNutt Oil Co. donated a nickel for every gallon of gas sold on Oct. 5. Volunteers from throughout the community pumped gas to show their appreciation and to collect tips. Gas Day chairpersons Boyce Smith and Lee Ann Law addressed the audience at the luncheon.
“We’re having a great day,” Smith said. “We’ve been out since 7 this morning, thanking every helper. Everyone is making this a great event.”
Smith said they spoke with one gentleman who donated to the cause who had never heard of United Way Gas Day. The man told Smith he would make a donation to United Way when he got home to New Orleans.
The different committee chairpersons made their reports at the luncheon and reported how far they were toward reaching their committee goals.
Joe Huff said the Public Service Committee is composed of public service employees of local and state government and non-profit organizations. While describing the slow pace at which government employees turn in their results, Huff elicited laughter from the crowd. “Historically, government is slower in sending in their pledges,” he said.
“Why are you looking at me?” said Bennett, the assistant county mayor.
“The county hasn’t sent anything yet,” Huff responded.
Huff thanked the Public Service Hamburger Luncheon chair Tom Hatcher for his efforts leading the recent luncheon. “At this point we’re proud to say we’ve raised $86,545 - 38.7 percent of our goal,” Huff said.
The Professional Division is led by Joe Dawson, administrator of Blount Memorial Hospital. He elicited laughter from the crowd in describing the lengths to which Blount Chamber Partnership President Fred Forster and Kevin Clayton have gone in raising money for United Way. “On behalf of the hospital, I want to thank Fred Forster and Kevin Clayton for all the broken arms and legs,” he said.
The Professional Division is listed as being composed of “dentists, doctors and miscellaneous professionals.” “I’ve been called lots of things, but never a miscellaneous professional,” Dawson said.
The division has raised about half its goal. “The Professional Division, we’re in the middle of the pack, we’re raised $66,750,” he said.
Major Firms chair John Hinkle said his division was made up of seven large companies in Blount County. Some of the companies have already done their campaigns as part of the Pace Setters initiative at the beginning of the overall campaign. Those companies include Green Bank, First Tennessee, Citizens Bank of Blount County and Blount Memorial Hospital. Denso, Clayton Homes and Alcoa, Inc., are in the middle of their campaigns, he said.
Major Firms raised $510,581 and 56 percent of their goal. “We’re confident we’re going to hit that goal,” Hinkle said.
Commerce Division chair David Connor said the division’s fundraising was going well. The division is made up of smaller companies. “There are still quite a few corporate campaigns going on,” he said.
Connor said the division has raised $171,033, about 57 percent of their goal.
Bennett introduced Forster to the audience. Forster has spent the past few months battling cancer and appeared to be energized at the meeting. “It’s it great to see Fred back in the community,” Bennett said. “A lot of prayers were answered.”
Forster heads The Pillars Society, which is made up of individuals or households who make $1,000 or more in donations. Last year, $476,592 was raised. “As of today, we’re raised $229,577. We’re at a measly 45.8 percent of goal,” Forster said. “We’ve got work to do.”
The Alexis de Tocqueville Society is chaired by Kevin Clayton and is for individuals or households donating $10,000 or more with a goal of $197,000. With $178,000 raised, the society is at 85 percent of goal, Forster said.
Total Leadership giving, combining the Alexis de Tocqueville Society and the Pillars Society is $408,327, or 57.8 percent of goal, Forster said.
Maryville City councilman Andy White leads the General Division. This division is composed of larger businesses and local small businesses. At this point in the program, Belk of Foothills Mall assistant manager Emily Johnson came forward with a $5,000 check.
“On behalf of Corporate Belk, the associates of Foothills Mall Belk, manager Bunker Handly and Amy Hamilton and myself, we’re proud to present United Way with a check for $5,000,” she said.
Johnson said the store is 95 percent complete in its own store associates campaign.
Some companies haven’t turned in their results yet. “Many of our employee campaigns are still underway,” White said. “I’m proud to announce General Business has raised $142,089, 74.6 percent of our goal of $150,000.”
Bennett reported that Industry Division chair Bryan Daniels couldn’t be at the meeting. The division has raised $63,860 or 32.7 percent of its goal.
Special Gifts and Residential Division was chaired by Brenda Pilson. The division focuses on clubs, organizations and individuals giving who are not part of a campaign. “Maryville Rotary was the first civic club to make their contribution of $1,500,” Pilson said. “We would like all civic clubs to step up. The Rotary Club has set the goal.”
The division’s goal was $95,777. They were at 61.3 percent of their goal as of the luncheon Friday.
On Monday, Vulcan Materials presented a check for $10,000 to United Way for the company’s donation. “This is one way that Vulcan gives back to the community,” said Vulcan’s Carl van Hoozier. “This is one of the ways we like to give back.”
Sandra Davis, executive director of United Way, said Vulcan has always been a great supporter of the community and United Way. “We have been able to count on them to be a great supporter for many years,” Davis said. “As we push past the mid-point, this helps us in a great way toward reaching for our goal.”