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United Way kicks off campaign

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By April Wright, Reporter

Twin County United Way started its annual campaign kickoff this month at Grayson National Bank locations, in hopes of raising $215,000 by March 31, 2010, to provide funds for 27 local agencies.

Representatives from the agencies gathered at the “thermometer” sign set up at Grayson National Bank’s Carrollton Pike location in Galax last Wednesday.

Thermometers will indicate progress TCUW makes toward the goal. As funds increase, the thermometer will rise, said Celeste Amburn, executive director of TCUW.

Thermometers are also set up at Grayson National Bank in Independence and Grayson National Bank in Hillsville. United Way volunteer Kenneth Burnette helps maintain the thermometers.

“The need is more prevalent than ever,” Amburn said of the slumping economy and those being laid off. “We’re seeing more people that have worked all their lives.”

Amburn said she hopes the thermometer will be a reminder of how United Way serves the community and that funds are needed by the agencies.

“Some don’t have a clue where to go. We want people to know who we are so if people need our help, we can help them,” she said.

Amburn said the best way to get information out about TCUW is by word of mouth and speaking to churches and organizations.

United Way provides funding assistance to local emergency services, literacy programs, homeless shelters and special needs programs.

Agencies receiving funding assistance from United Way include One-on-One Literacy Program, Southwest Virginia Legal Aid, Baywood Search and Rescue Squad, Elk Creek Valley Volunteer Department, Fries Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Independence Volunteer Fire Department, Independence Volunteer Rescue, Ivanhoe Volunteer Fire Department, Lambsburg Rescue Squad, Laurel Rescue Squad, Mount Rogers Volunteer Fire and Rescue, Troutdale Volunteer Fire and Rescue.

Also, Free Clinic of the Twin Counties, Twin County Hospice, Rooftop of Virginia Community Action Program, Lions Eye Clinic of the Twin Counties, Appalachian Independence Center, Crossroads Shelter, Family Resource Center, Galax Community Services, HOPE, Wood’s River Chapter American Red Cross, Blue Ridge Mountains Council Boy Scouts, Fries Recreation Center, Girls Scouts of Virginia Skyline, Mountain View Youth and Family Services, Retired Seniors Volunteer Fire Department.

Raising money for United Way is always difficult, she said, especially since the closing of companies that once were big donors. However, Amburn said she will continue on her trail of company campaigns and letter campaigns to individuals.

“Even though we’re in a recession, we’re proud to say that those agencies that applied for funding were funded,” Amburn said.

TCUW information pamphlets show the design of a quilt, and pictures of agencies served by TCUW make up the squares. A blank spot says, “your contribution goes here.” The quilt represents TCUW.

“It takes many people to make up the pieces that belong to a quilt,” Amburn said. “Contributions can help complete the quilt. If there’s an empty block, the quilt isn’t complete.”

The more funding received, the more agencies can be served and the bigger the quilt becomes.

Among fundraising ideas, TCUW has begun holding flag football tournaments and plans to sell “Flags With a Message” that are decorative garden flags designed by Galax artist Lona Cox. They feature an accompanying scripture message.

For information about “Flags With a Message,” call (540) 556-2521 or see www.flagswithamessage.com.

For regional United Way information, call 236-9070. TCUW is at 121 W. Grayson St., Galax.

To make a donation, send checks to Twin County United Way, P.O. Box 300, Galax, Va. 24333. TCUW is non-profit and tax exempt. Donations are tax deductible.