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BLOOMINGTON - It's first and goal for United Way of McLean County's annual fund-raising campaign.

Whether United Way volunteers and staff will be able to score by reaching their fund-raising goal of $4.2 million depends on county residents who haven't yet made their pledge this fall.

United Way announced Tuesday that it has raised $3,793,822, or 90 percent of its campaign goal. Fund raising began Aug. 30 and concludes Dec. 31.

"We're certainly pleased," said campaign Chairman Kevin Marti, senior vice president of life and health operations at Country Insurance & Financial Services. "We feel good about making goal, but we need the entire community to pull together to make it happen."

"We've had a really good campaign up to this point," said United Way President Greg Cott. "But it's still important to get the final 10 percent to be able to fund programs for children, families and seniors."

Donations to United Way of McLean County support 47 programs run by 29 local social service agencies. Programs assist the homeless, people with disabilities, children and families in crisis, older adults, and others in need.

While most employers have completed their United Way campaigns, some remain in progress.

Marti and Cott noted that the successful pacesetter campaign run by the Illinois Farm Bureau family of companies (Farm Bureau, Country Insurance and Growmark) in August started a trend among employers of double-digit increases over their fund raising of last year.

While that average increase has dipped to 6 percent over last year, Marti noted that a 6 percent increase overall would put United Way over its $4.2 million goal. That goal is 5 percent more than the $4,010,114 raised last year.

Donations to Hurricane Katrina survivors by McLean County residents don't appear to be resulting in less money to United Way, Marti and Cott said. Employees and employers donated to hurricane survivors over and above their United Way contributions, recognizing that United Way agencies focus on local needs, Marti said.

Marti also is optimistic for the final month of the campaign because donations continued to come in earlier this fall despite rising gasoline prices and now with the start of the holiday shopping season.

County residents who haven't donated through employer campaigns may give directly to United Way at or by calling (309) 828-7383. Campaign results will be announced Jan. 11.


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