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United Way 2021 fundraising campaign starts

The United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties officially kicked off its 2021 fundraising campaign, “Now, more than ever,” Wednesday.

“I hope you’ll encourage your friends, family and co-workers to not only give, but to now, give more than ever because our community needs us now more than ever,” said Susan Hardesty, campaign chair.

Thanks to the campaign’s 10 pacesetters — companies that run workplace campaigns prior to the official launch to ensure a good start — the nonprofit is already 24% of the way to its goal, according to David Hardesty, former West Virginia University president and co-campaign chair.

The pacesetters, individual contributions and fundraisers raised $279,320 prior to Wednesday’s noon launch, according to Amanda Posey, director of marketing and communications for United Way.

That number, which is updated as the community gives, will soon appear on the United Way’s fundraising thermometers. Brandi Helms, United Way CEO, said there will be three placed in Mon County and one in Preston County.

The campaign’s goal is $1,142,000.

One thermometer has already been placed at Encompass Health, where United Way employees gathered with signs Wednesday morning to generate excitement for the campaign launch and encourage people to honk in support, Helms said.

Every dollar donated is important to the community, Helms said.

David Hardesty spoke about how on a recent visit to Preston County Workshop, a United Way partner that helps people find jobs, and Food for Preston, another United Way partner, he saw the importance of United Way’s mission.

“The closer I get to the need, the more I realize how important our mission is,” he said.

There are several upcoming fundraisers to help generate money for the campaign.

The Spooky Sprint Virtual 5k is open for registration at until Oct. 10, said Servando Arredondo, engagement manager.

Everyone who signs up will get a T-shirt, race bib and medal. People who post pictures of themselves on social media completing the run from Oct. 25-31 with hashtag #elspookysprint, will be eligible for additional prizes, Arredondo said.

There is also an auction, raffle and 50/50 drawing available on the organization’s website until Nov. 10, according to Macall Speaker, director of development.

Auction items include autographed Ada Lace books from “Space Gal” Emily Calandrelli, a round of golf with WVU’s golf coach Sean Covich and a personal song from West Virginia native and Paw Patrol theme song singer Scott Simons.

Raffle items include a YETI cooler, gift cards, sunglasses and personal training sessions.

All items were donated by the community, Speaker said.