United Way gears up for annual drive, sets theme and goal

By FAITH HUFFMAN, News-Telegram News Editor

Sept. 9, 2008 - Hopkins County United Way is gearing up for its 2008-2009 fund drive to raise $150,000 to benefit 17 local agencies.

"Our campaign goal is $150,000, $5,000 more than last year," HCUW Campaign Chairman John Seller announced Tuesday morning. "We're excited about this campaign. We've collected more before and feel we will be able to fully collect even in these difficult economic times."

This year's campaign theme, "Continuing Tradition, Sharing Hope, Fulfilling the Heart -- The United Way," completes the loop of what HCUW works toward annually, Sellers noted.

"This is about community. We've done this for 54 years," he said. "Its an integral part of our community, helping agencies.

The campaign chair said the impetus of the whole campaign is to share hope by helping children and needy by giving to the agencies, which offers hope to the people it serves in terms of financial support, services and benefits. For HCUW workers and the many individuals, businesses and industries that support the drive annually, giving fulfills the heart.

He said tradition, hope and the act of giving are what HCUW works toward and represents.

Sellers issued a special thanks to City National Bank for "allowing me to give back to the community. I'm proud to work where they back me and give so much back to the community."

He said he recalled hearing the excitement as the pledge amount increased weekly and was marked by the "thermometer" on the square while growing up locally, but did not personally become involved in United Way until he moved to Dallas, where the business he worked supported United Way and strongly encouraged its employees to do so for the Dallas group. Since moving back to Hopkins County, Sellers has served on HCUW Board and three times on the HCUW Budget and Allocations Committee. He said only until he served on the allocation board did the full import of what United Way does fully register with him. He said hearing representatives from each of the agencies requesting allocations annually from United Way, was akin to or even better than a pep rally for HCUW.

"When each comes and talks about the needs, it does a wonderful job getting you fired up for United Way," said Sellers.

Among the agencies designated to benefit from HCUW's 2008-2009 campaign are Community Chest, 4-H Club, Teen Court, Girl Scouts, Hopkins County Community Action Network, East Texas Council on Alcohol and Drug Abuse, Hopkins County Christian Alliance, Family Haven, Court Appointed Special Advocates for children, Northeast Texas-Southeastern Oklahoma Trails Council of Boy Scouts of America, Boys & Girls Club, Northeast Texas Food Bank, Heritage Outreach Ministry Foundation, Northeast Texas Child Advocacy Center Inc., Meal A Day Center, our Place and SAFE-T (a shelter for families in Northeast Texas."

HCUW will begin kicking off this year's campaign Sept. 23 with its special CEO luncheon, hosted annually as a thank you for representatives from the top 15 "givers" in the previous year's campaign, at The Lodge. Dr. Dan Jones, the new president of Texas A&M University-Commerce will be the keynote speaker.

Workers will kick off the campaign Sept. 30, with a luncheon at Southwest Dairy Center. Campaign workers will receive collection packets to begin distributing throughout the community. Sellers will be the featured speaker at the workers lunch.

Beginning Oct. 14, HCUW workers will begin the first of three campaign report meetings to be held each Tuesday through the end of October at 9:30 a.m. at Hopkins County Chamber of Commerce.

Randal Voss will assist Sellers at president and Charlotte Henderson as executive secretary.

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