The Tribune Democrat, Johnstown, PA

October 31, 2013

United Way fund drive off to good start, leaders say

David Hurst
dhurst@tribdem.com

JOHNSTOWN — United Way of the Laurel Highlands is outpacing last year’s fundraising efforts to reach its annual $1.1 million campaign goal, figures show.

That doesn’t mean the drive’s fundraisers are resting easy, especially during tough economic times like these when the assistance programs they support are needed more than ever, United Way of the Laurel Highlands President Bill McKinney said.

“Whether it’s food pantries or help for victims of domestic violence, the demand goes up when people are struggling,” McKinney said Thursday during a fund drive briefing at Pennsylvania Highlands Community College.

“The money raised between now and December – that’s what we’re going to be spending to help Cambria and Somerset charities in 2014,” he said. “It’s being spent locally.”

More than ever, a large portion of those funds will be directed to help needy children and youth, McKinney said. Programs the United Way supports are aimed at efforts such as better preparing children for kindergarten, focusing on anti-drug efforts for middle schoolers and working to strengthen family bonds, he added.

The United Way of the Laurel Highlands supports more than 30 nonprofits in the Cambria and Somerset counties and more than 40 programs geared to help children and youth, families and older adults.

As of this week, $252,290 of the targeted $1.1 million had been raised, said Rebecca Styles, the campaign chairwoman and president of Lockheed Martin AeroParts.

“We’re excited about where we’re at right now,” Styles said, noting fundraising will continue until the end of the year. “We’re just getting started.”

Golden group

United Way of the Laurel Highlands was awarded a gold seal this month by a nationally known group that collects and provides data on charitable nonprofits, President Bill

McKinney said. Virginia-based GuideStar, which provides information about nonprofits on its website, www.guidestar.org, gave the local branch its Gold Seal.

The seal is GuideStar’s highest level, awarded to those who show commitment to transparency, its website says.



David Hurst is a reporter for The Tribune-Democrat. Follow him on Twitter at www.twitter.com/tddavidhurst.