PLATTSBURGH - The United Way of the Adirondack Region Inc. has officially begun its 2010-11 fundraising campaign.
The nonprofit organization - which helps partnering agencies in Clinton, Essex and Franklin counties - announced at its annual campaign kick-off breakfast Sept. 16, it aims to raise $750,000.
John C. Bernardi, the nonprofit organization's executive director, explained the amount reflects both a continued need throughout the region and the inclusion of partnering agencies in Franklin County to be helped by the local United Way.
"Our United Way is evolving. We're growing, we're evolving and we're adapting," said Bernardi. "If there was ever a time we needed to raise more money, now is the time."
Kirk A. Stallsmith, general manager of the Plattsburgh Georgia-Pacific facility, who serves as chairperson of this year's United Way fundraising campaign team, said he hopes to build on the success of last year's campaign, which raised $700,000 for the United Way's more than 30 partner agencies.
"We're very blessed to have a group of people in the community with heart and commitment to the community," Stallsmith said of past fundraising campaign supporters.
Though the local United Way now covers three counties and is aiming to raise an additional $50,000 this year, Stallsmith said he feels confident people will see the need and once again step up to the plate to help.
"The challenge is there and I think we're up to it," he said.
Bernardi credited the work of the fundraising campaign for knocking on doors and asking people to dig a little deeper into their pockets this year to help the less fortunate through United Way.
"There's just a great deal of synergy and energy and enthusiasm and it's helped us be able to reach out to places that we've not been able to reach before," said Bernardi. "I think we've built a network that has been really productive for us. That is what makes the difference, people within organizations who are passionate about it and are willing to put time and effort into it. That's what makes the campaign successful."
During the event, Bernardi announced this year's "pacesetters" - businesses and individuals who begin early fundraising efforts - who have so far raised $164,719.84, bringing the campaign to 22 percent of its overall goal.
Bernardi said the money pledged so far is a promising sign of the campaign reaching its goal and building upon the more than 80,000 people the United Way was able to help last year alone.
"It is a huge challenge and we're counting on people throughout the region to step up to the plate," said Bernardi. "And, at the end of the day, it doesn't matter how much the dollar amount is. What matters most is how many people we're able to impact in a positive way.
Those wishing to make contributions toward the local United Way campaign may send donations in care of United Way of the Adirondack Region, 45 Tom Miller Road, Plattsburgh N.Y. 12901. Donations may also be arranged through a payroll deduction, which may be arranged through one's employer.
For more information, contact the local United Way office at 563-0028 or visit www.unitedwayadk.org.