Just shy of 2

With nod to economic times, United Way sets goal at $1.9 million

Hinkle’s island couldn’t hold the “stranded” group of castaways for long -- not with the work facing the United Way of Blount County 2009 Campaign Committee.

As United Way of Blount County kicked off its 2009 campaign at a Friday morning breakfast at the Hilton, the major chairs of the committee were missing from their table. After CEO Michelle Hankes announced that John Hinkle and his committee were “missing,” the theme music from “Gilligan’s Island” began, and what has become known as the “funny video” introduced the committee to the group of business and community leaders gathered from the breakfast.

The humorous video called “Hinkle’s Island” showed the team weathering the storm of a tough economic climate before coming to rest on Hinkle’s Island. Then, dressed as “Gilligan’s Island” characters, Hinkle and his cabinet entered the kick-off celebration to a crowd of cheering attendants.

Hinkle joked that being stranded on the desert island allowed him and his cabinet time to think about the campaign and the current state of the economy. Hinkle then explained exactly how his cabinet had determined the goal for the 2009 United Way campaign and announced a goal of raising $1.9 million.

“We talked to business owners about what challenges in the economy was effecting them and made conservative estimates on what was possible,” Hinkle said. “Then we looked at the needs in the community. We spent a lot of time looking at the challenges and opportunities and we had more opportunities than challenges.”

“Our goal for 2009 is $1.9 million, and we’re ready to go get it,” Campaign chair John Hinkle said.

The goal is 7.9 percent lower than what was raised during last year’s regular campaign.

With the campaign kick-off just beginning, the Pacesetter Committee’s work is ending. The committee works with a group of companies that do their campaigns early to give the effort a head start. Pacesetter Chair Greg Wilson reported on behalf of the 23 companies that held United Way campaigns early. This year’s Pacesetters have raised $561,746, or 29.6 percent of the 2009 goal.

Matthew Bryan announced the golf tournament raised $25,968, which is an increase over last year’s tournament.

Regina Jennings, who chairs United Way’s Year of Caring committee, announced results for the organizations food drive and competition, the “Can”paign Before the Campaign.

The Can-paign was a canned food drive, with organizations and businesses competing to raise the most poundage of food per employee. Winners were Alcoa, Inc (large category winner), BB&T (medium category winner), Foothills Bank and Trust (community spirit award) and United Way of Blount County (small category winner).

The “Can”paign Before the Campaign brought in 3,642 pounds of food for participating pantries with the United Way Food Pantry Collaboration.

United Way of Blount County president and CEO Michelle Hankes said United Way helps fund agencies that focus on the health, education and self-sufficiency of residents in Blount County.

“United Way sees the big picture,” she said. “We see the tiny agencies no one knows about doing something vital. That’s the impact of United Way.”

Hinkle said United Way volunteers, staff and partner agencies work hard to support the community solid social services network. “That’s why we’re here, to support our community partner agencies,” he said.

Hinkle closed the kick-off celebration with a slideshow tribute to United Way’s community partners, “Those social services are the true heroes of Blount County,” he said.

Following the event, Hinkle said the committee knew going into this campaign that this was a tough economy in which to be holding a campaign. “The economy is challenging but I think the economy is starting to turn,” he said.

Hinkle said whenever he faces skeptics who wonder why they should donate to United Way, he focuses on how well managed the money coming into United Way is on the local level. “I’ve always said United Way is the most efficient use of funds,” said Hinkle. “83 percent of money raised stays in Blount County.”

Special fundraising events are scheduled throughout the fall, including:

United Way Day

September 1

10:30 - 3:00

McAlister’s Deli

A portion of all lunch sales go to United Way.

Back Roads Ride & Bar-B-Q Round-Up

September 13

12:30 - 2:00 Registration and Pull-out @ Smoky Mountain Harley Davidson

3:30 - 5:00 Bar-B-Q and Concert @ Smithview Pavilion

Visit liveunitedblount.org/bikeride to buy tickets and register.

Public Service Hamburger Luncheon & Silent Auction

September 23

11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

First Baptist Church of Maryville

Featuring Fried Twinkies and McAlister’s tea

Gas Day

October 23

E-Z Stop

KenJo Market

Mr. Gas

On the Run

Townsend Village Market IGA

A portion of all gas sales goes to United Way.

United Way of Blount County supports programs that address health, education, and self-sufficiency. For more information please visit liveunitedblount.org or call 865-982-2251.

© 2009 blounttoday.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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