With Penn State's help, United Way surpasses its goal

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. -- In 1972, the first year Penn State faculty and staff held a fundraising campaign for Centre County United Way the goal was just shy of $46,000. This year, the goal was nearly 19 times that number -- $862,500 and employees topped that figure as well with contributions amounting to $863,605.

"It was an ambitious goal, made all the more challenging by a sluggish economy," Penn State President Rodney Erickson said. "But Penn Staters looked around and saw a greater need in our community. They saw 37 partner agencies that were struggling to serve more clients with less funding. They saw all the good that the Centre County United Way does for families in our area. And they came together to meet the challenge. I applaud them all."

The 2012 campaign was chaired by Damon Sims, vice president for student affairs, who said he was excited by the thought of how many people could be helped by United Way agencies in the coming year with a donation of this size.

The campaign, which launched last summer, had an overall goal of $2.07 million. Earlier this month, campaign leaders announced that goal had been surpassed as well, providing $2,100,136 to health and human service agencies in the county. Penn State's efforts accounted for 41 percent of the total.

"Trash to Treasure is one of the biggest fundraisers in the campaign, it brought in $60,855 alone," said Sims. "But our employees pitch in for Day of Caring, and they come up with other creative ideas as well as agreeing to payroll deductions. Retirees also have a role and are generous with their gifts."

The United Way supports initiatives such as Centre County chapter of the American Red Cross and the Centre County Library. Other agencies that receive funding from the nonprofit include Easter Seals, the Girl Scouts, the Centre County Youth Service Bureau, Centre Peace, The Sight Loss Support Group of Central Pa., and the local YMCA. The agencies use the money for programs such as preventing homelessness, preschool readiness, emergency financial assistance, peer counseling and tutoring, blood donations and legal support.

"Everyone played an important part – faculty, staff, retirees and our students," Erickson said. "This is a truly remarkable achievement, and an inspiring community effort that is worth repeating."

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Last Updated February 20, 2013