Routt County United Way is asking residents for $400,000 this year, a donation total that would top last year's record mark.
More than $390,000 was raised during the 2002 campaign, exceeding the goal of $365,000 and shattering other records in the organization's 20-year history.
"I love the fact that instead of holding back in a tough economic climate, (Routt County United Way) said, 'Let's go a little higher,'" said Verne Lundquist, the honorary chairman of the organization's fund-raising campaign.
"I just think it says wonders about the people of Routt County."
Lundquist spoke Wednesday at a ceremony kicking off the campaign. The event was held at the Routt County Courthouse.
Attending the ceremony were Routt County United Way workers, as well as representatives from the 28 health and human service organizations in the county that rely on United Way funds.
All of the money raised by Routt County United Way stays in the county, said Millie Beall, the agency's executive director. By paying an affiliation fee to be a part of the national United Way organization, the county organization can make other funds and support available.
The money raised in the campaign is much-needed, Beall said, as state and federal funding that many agencies rely upon continues to decline.
"They've been cut back and cut back and cut back," Beall said.
Routt County United Way funds are necessary for many of the organizations to offer the level of service that they have in the past, she said.
Diane Moore, executive director of Advocates Against Battering and Abuse, said that without United Way funds, some of her program's services would be eliminated.
"For us, it's definitely a significant part of our budget," she said.
While it's crucial to many organizations, Moore isn't sure most residents grasp how significant the funding is. "It's such a well-known name, but I doubt that they have a lot of specific understanding of how important it is," she said.
Beall said she thinks the $400,000 goal is attainable.
"That's my hope, that we can make this happen," she said.
Donations can be mailed to Routt County United Way, P.O. Box 774005, Steamboat Springs, CO 80477. The fund-raising campaign officially ends in early March.
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