United Fund making final push

In football terms, the latest United Fund of Surry campaign is inside the 10-yard line and needing only a few more yards to hit paydirt.

“The United Fund is nearing the end of our campaign,” a spokeswoman for the effort, Christina Plitt, announced in reference to a March 31 target date, “and is very close to meeting our goal.”

This year’s campaign objective is $475,000, which is 5.5 percent higher than last year.

“The goal was increased by $25,000,” United Fund Executive Director Merry Craig Boaz said Tuesday of the real-dollar figure involved.

All the money raised remains in the local area to provide vital financial support to 26 different member agencies serving the community, from rescue squads to scouting organizations and many others.

“The campaign goal was increased this year due to a rise in requests from our member agencies and projections by the (United Fund) board of directors that Surry County had the capacity to reach this goal,” Plitt added.

“We have met the goal for the past two years and felt that this was achievable, especially with continued support from our larger partners including Renfro, NCFI and Reynolds American.”

Industry support key

Despite the loftier sum involved, such donors have risen to the occasion in-kind, according to Boaz, who is serving her first year as United Fund executive director, the person who coordinates various donor networks leading toward the ultimate goal.

“Of course, being my inaugural year, I was quite nervous,” Boaz admitted Tuesday. But everything has come together well to this point.

“The most impressive thing for me was our industry,” Boaz said of support by area companies, some of which have aided the United Fund through decades of economic and other upheaval.

For the present fundraising effort, 35 workplace campaigns were held throughout the county, with 1,600-plus people participating in these campaigns either through designating a portion of their paychecks or by making one-time gifts.

The money given through these workplace efforts comprises 54 percent of the total amount raised through the campaign.

Corporate grants and gifts have totaled $157,000 (35 percent), and contributions from the public at large, about $53,000. The remainder has been generated through miscellaneous fundraising activities.

Boaz says the development of a new donor base in Pilot Mountain also has paid dividends.

At last report, the United Fund of Surry had achieved $472,429.

“This puts us at 99.5 percent of the total needed and only approximately $2,500 short of reaching our goal,” summed up Plitt.

Boaz said a late-hour push for individual or industrial donations is under way to get the campaign over the top.

Contributions can be made online at www.unitedfundofsurry.org or mailed to P.O. Box 409, Mount Airy, NC, 27030.

Clear need

By reaching the campaign goal, the United Fund will be able to fully supply allocations to its 26 member agencies. “We are hoping that with one last appeal to the public, we will be able to ensure that happens,” Plitt emphasized.

The need for such support is evident, based on statistics showing the impact of the campaign in 2016:

• Programs aid by the United Fund of Surry helped more than 25,000 people in the county;

• The five rescue squads supported by the United Fund responded to 3,306 emergencies;

• Also, 1,265 uninsured patients received medical care and more than 9,000 prescriptions were filled;

• About 2,500 people were provided with counseling and mentoring services;

• Another 162 children and adults with disabilities participated in enrichment programs;

• A total of 84,280 meals were served;

• With housing an increasing concern, 446 children and adults were provided with a safe place to live;

• More than 1,300 seniors participated in support programs.

Robin Testerman of Children’s Center of Surry County said the United Fund makes a major difference for that organization.

“The Children’s Center provides services to our most vulnerable children and families and Surry United Fund provides funding that makes a difference and impacts lives on a daily basis,” Testerman said in a statement. “The dollars they raise go directly to the children we serve and make it possible for our kids to have a better future.”

This was echoed by Stephanie Tuttle of Surry Friends of Youth.

“The annual contribution from the United Fund of Surry allows Surry Friends of Youth to continue offering free services for children in the community,” Tuttle said in a statement. “The United Fund of Surry reaching their goal impacts Surry Friends of Youth’s ability to continue advocating the needs of youth through community service, supportive counseling and mentoring.”