Steamboat Springs Routt County United Way asked residents to reach a little deeper in 2003 and raise $365,000 for agencies and human service programs in the county.
Residents have responded by already meeting 65 percent of the campaign goal. United Way director Millie Beall is confident pledges in the next few months will fulfill the goal.
The nonprofit organization kicked off its 2003 campaign last month. State and federal cutbacks have intensified local agencies and human service programs' need for United Way funding.
A canvass of 10 agencies in the county that depend on United Way funds revealed an estimated $465,000 shortfall in outside funding.
Despite the sluggish economy, donors have been generous with their contributions, Beall said.
"Longtime participants are still participating at the same level," she said.
Second-home owners in the county have also stepped up to the plate. Beall said many people, though they live in the county only part of the year, want to contribute to the funding drive.
United Way volunteers regularly make presentations to local businesses and encourage individuals to partner in the campaign.
"The more people we talk to, the more people that will understand what this campaign is all about," Beall said.
The rate at which the 2003 goal is being met is faster than last year. Routt County United Way reached its 2002 goal last February.
"I am hoping we can beat that this year," Beall said.
Any nonprofit organization or program that meets health or human service needs in the county qualifies for United Way funding.
Twenty-six nonprofit organizations that span age groups and abilities and social and economic backgrounds will benefit from the 2003 campaign.
Routt County United Way also awards up to $1,000 to programs within the county that depend on volunteers.
One-time donations are available for needs that pop up during the year. Almost $14,000 has funded special need requests in 2002.
The United Way impacts one out of two people in the county. The organization coordinates the community Thanksgiving dinner and the Christmas Wishes program. People who wish to volunteer or donate food for the dinner should call 879-0233 or 879-5605.
Beall said she was pleased by the early success of the campaign, but much work still remains.
"The first 50 percent is always the easier one," Beall said. "That's why we all have to keep in mind that we're not there yet."
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