United Way kicks off 2019 fundraising campaign

MORGANTOWN — The United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties marked the start of its 2019 fundraising campaign on Tuesday with a lunch celebrating the pledges its 10 Pacesetter Companies have collected so far.

More than 50 people from 40 participating companies and local service agencies attended the lunch. Campaign chair Andy Walls, president and CEO of Morgantown Printing and Binding, unveiled a banner showing the Pacesetters had raised $227,855, with more coming in during the few days since the banner was printed.

“Without everybody having their boots on the ground and believing in the cause and being engaged in it, we can’t do this,” Walls said.

More than 100 United Way workplace campaigns began on Tuesday, but the 10 Pacesetters set the pace by starting theirs on Aug. 7 during a Community Leaders’ Breakfast.

The full campaign runs through the end of the year, said United Way CEO Brandi Helms. This year’s goal, Walls said, is $1,480,000 and the Pacesetter pledges mark 15 percent of the goal reached.

This year’s theme is “Change Starts Here.” Walls said, “Change is an evolution that constantly happens. If you’re not changing you’re staying the same.”

They don’t want to get caught up in the presumption that they’ll automatically meet their campaign goal, he said. “The changes that need to take place in our community are constantly growing because our community is growing.”

The campaign helps support 47 programs at 25 health and human service agencies in Monongalia and Preston Counties.

Representatives of the 10 Pacesetters reported their pledges to date. Helms said Mylan, the single-biggest donor, is one of three local companies using the new online pledging system. Mylan just got it rolling this week and already raised $38,364.

FirstEnergy has raised $23,548.

Tracy Burns said her company, Clear Mountain Bank, perked up fundraising by allowing employees wear jeans on Fridays — “which is pretty huge for a bank” — if they donate $5 per paycheck. That little incentive has increased this year’s pledges by several thousand dollars.

Another top donor is Monongalia County Schools, raising $37,654 so far.

Milan Puskar Health Right is one of the agencies receiving United Way support. Caitlin Sussman, Health Right’s Friendship House program director, told the group, “We really appreciate all the work that you guys do to help us provide services and I’m really proud to live in Morgantown because we’re a very generous community.”

Spilman Thomas & Battle law firm sponsored the lunch; it was hosted by the Courtyard Morgantown Marriott hotel at University Town Centre.

Tweet David Beard @dbeardtdp

Email dbeard@dominionpost.com

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