United Way workers ready to distribute packets
Faith Huffman | News-Telegram News Editor

Dr. Bob McCartney, pastor at First Baptist Church, delivers a motivational speech Tuesday during the Hopkins County United Way Worker's Luncheon. Also pictured, left to right, are: Peggy Weaver, HCUW co-chair; Jason Dietze, First United Methodist Church; and Bob Weaver, HCUW co-chair

Staff Photo by Faith Huffman

Oct. 4, 2006 - Following a motivational speech by First Baptist Church's Dr. Bob McCartney, about 45 Hopkins County United Way workers on Tuesday picked up their campaign pledge packets to be distributed to businesses, industries and groups throughout the community.

Bob Weaver, co-chair with his wife ,Peggy, of this year's HCUW campaign, said in addition to the continued support of loyal supporters, United Way this year would also be focusing on including new businesses and those who for whatever reason had not been contacted for support in the annual fund raiser.

As an example, Weaver noted a conversation with a friend earlier this week who indicated to the chairman that his business had not participated in United Way in the past  because they had never been asked.

Weaver urges any business, individual or group who has not been contacted in the past but would like to give to Hopkins County United Way, or would like more information about HCUW and the 16 agencies it serves, to contact HCUW's office at 903-885-6829 or call Bob Weaver at 903-885-0091.

He also encourages any business or group interested in having someone come and speak to their employees or members about United Way and how the money is distributed to also call one of the above numbers.

"Peggy and I will be happy to come out to companies, like those with large numbers of employees, and speak. We'll be glad to come out if they'll just call and tell us," Weaver said Tuesday afternoon, noting that outreach to include other businesses is only one of several new things in the works, although others still in the planning stages.

Although Coca-Cola Bottling Company is not a new contributor to Hopkins County United Way, the company is trying something new to generate donations from among employees. The company is holding an internal silent auction, have designated a day each for donations for Coke floats, a pancake breakfast, a burger and hot dog day, all for employees; as well as a raffle for an electric Coke dispensing machine.

The company started the initiative after similar efforts last year to benefit a Beaumont Coke company affected by Hurricane Rita that met with success, deciding to do the same this year by offering merchandise generally reserved for customers for silent bid through Oct. 20 to all company employees.

Among the auction items Coke employees are already bidding on are a boxed set of poker chips, chairs, carrying bags and cases, posters and signs, two toy Hummers, tool sets, a TV, Dr. Pepper football, jackets, small refrigerators and drink coolers, satellite radio and ipods.

"These are things that are not normally available to employees, but for marketing and sale material for customers," said Sulphur Springs Coca-Cola Sales Center Manager Jeff Byrum. "This is all to help support the United Way campaign. I think we'll raise quite a bit of money. It did real good in the past. Hopefully, we'll be able to do it again for [people] here."

The 63 Coca-Cola employees will be offering raffle tickets to anyone in the general public for a $1 per ticket or $5 for six ticket donations for chances to win a drink vending machine donated by the company as an incentive to give to HCUW. They will continue to sell tickets through Oct. 20. Vending machine raffle tickets will also be available at the Coca-Cola office, located off East Industrial Drive on Coca-Cola Drive.

"It's amazing everything we do for each other in Hopkins County," Weaver said. "Funds from Hopkins County United Way sometimes makes the difference in some cases whether people eat or not. Thy [benefiting agencies] do so much for children in trouble, and children in situations no child should ever have to be in."

´┐ŻAlmost all funds donated directly benefit Hopkins County residents, including the money that goes to Family Haven, which is based in Paris but provides shelters to victims of domestic abuse in Hopkins County.

"That's one of the reasons I am so dedicated about United Way, the families and organizations it supports. It's a very tangible thing we do," he added.

This year HCUW has designated funds for Community Chest, 4-H Club, Teen Court, Girl Scouts, United Way of America, Hopkins County Community Action Network, Northeast Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Hopkins County Christian Alliance, Family Haven, Lake Country Court Appointed Special Advocates for children, Hopkins County Child Protective Services, Boys & Girls Club, Northeast Texas Food Bank, Heritage Outreach Ministry Foundation, Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center Inc., Meal-a-Day Center and Our Place.

Of course, the fund raising drive wouldn't be successful each year without each agency, business, industry, group and individual's monetary contribution for the benefiting agencies. Nor would HCUW be able to assist so many without the dedication of workers, from its board of directors, allocation committee to the nearly 50 individuals who not only give money out of their pockets, but also "give a very valuable commodity -- their time."

Generally, once a person joins the United Way team, they stay on as loyal and committed workers for many years, often going on to serve as committee and board members, or in a few cases even as officers or campaign workers, Weaver explained.

This year's campaign to raise $140,000 began with at least $10,000 already banked, thanks to two businesses who took it upon themselves to hold a fundraiser, offer employee incentives or collect funds ahead of the campaign. 

Both the city of Sulphur Springs and M. Hannah Construction had already turned in their campaign collections as of the Sept. 30 corporate kick-off luncheon. 

"I think that speaks of the awareness of our community. They don't have to be asked. They just do it. It speak of lot of our community and those in it. If everyone gives just a little, it makes a big difference," Weaver said, challenging motorists taking advantage of falling gas prices to donate the difference between the higher gas rates and the new lower rates to United Way.

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