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United Way close to reaching goal

GREENFIELD — Needy children throughout Franklin County will have books to read, struggling families will get the help they need, and people in crisis will have somewhere to turn because of the United Way of Franklin County’s latest successful fund drive.

The agency, which was founded in 1938 and is celebrating its 75th anniversary this year, has raised $779,657, or 98.6 percent, of the $790,000 it had hoped to during its annual fund drive, which began last September.

United Way Executive Director Linda Stacy said there is still time for the agency to meet its goal by raising an additional $10,343.

The annual fund drive accounts for 70 percent of the agency’s fundraising, and that money helps support 24 of its partner agencies and more than 40 programs.

The agency set a goal of $825,000 last year, but fell shy by nearly $25,000.

The highest successful campaign the agency ever ran was $875,000 several years ago, according to Stacy, but each time the area lost a large employer, it made it more difficult to reach that type of goal, because the agency depends on contributions from local businesses and agencies and their employees.

On Tuesday, United Way held its annual celebratory breakfast, at which it announces results of each year’s campaign, in the dining commons in Greenfield Community College.

Stacy and campaign Chairwoman Amy Clarke, who is also the executive director of Franklin County Community Meals Program, announced that Channing Bete Co. Inc. of South Deerfield, after many years of being the campaign’s “Company of the Year” for raising the most money, handed the torch to Deerfield Academy, which raised $79,419 this year.

Channing Bete and Yankee Candle Co. Inc. were the next largest donors.

Clarke said Deerfield Academy had the highest employee contributions with the average gift of about $934.

“I’ve lived here all my life,” said Clarke. “There’s always been a great sense of community and giving here.”

“Our 24 partner agencies rely on every dollar raised,” said Clarke.

Sharon Pleasant, campaign coordinator, said United Way also holds public events throughout each year. This year, its Art and Leisure auction, which was held at Eaglebrook Academy in Deerfield, raised $20,000.

Pleasant said United Way’s A’Cappella Festival will be held on April 13 at 7:30 p.m. at Frontier Regional School in South Deerfield. She said the event is usually sold out with about 500 people attending. Tickets in advance are $10 for adults and $5 for seniors and students.

Stacy said United Way holds other events throughout the year, including its “backpack” campaign, which results in about 350 backpacks being filled with school supplies, or its “feed a family of six” food drives, which results in 250 to 350 shopping bags filled with food being delivered to needy families.

“We count on you guys year after year,” said Stacy.

On Tuesday, The Recorder received one of United Way’s Samuel B. Payne awards and its Community Recognition award for the contributions it makes to the agency.

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