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United Way gears up for new campaign
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Forsyth County News

It's going to be a difficult year for fundraising, said Ruth Goode, executive director of the United Way of Forsyth County.

With the cost of gas and food, "it's a tough year for people who are just making it by to begin with," she said.

As a result, the demand for help is high, but the ability to help is low. But that's not stopping the organization from setting a goal and working to reach it like it has every year since the first campaign raised $125,000 in 1991.

"We've always found the people here in Forsyth County are really generous and somehow come through, so we're going to count on that again this year," said Goode, noting while the fundraising goal might not increase too much over last year, it won't decrease. "We really have to stretch ourselves to provide what the community needs."

During the 2007 end-of-campaign luncheon in May, the organization reported raising about $1.7 million in pledges, beating its goal by $100,000.

Goode said while on average, the United Way collects 99 percent of its pledged support every year, 2007 pledges have not been as easy to collect.

"We were finding pledges from last year's campaign have been a little bit harder to collect," Goode said. "But we usually do pretty good with collections."

"I think most people understand that their pledge is really a promise they're making to the community, so they follow through with that."

Like last year, Goode said she is being cautiously optimistic for the 2008 campaign. Having new Lambert High School Principal Gary Davison as honorary campaign chairman will only help bring in more awareness and pledges from the community, she said.

"He offered, which is very rare," she said. "That's usually the job that no one likes to do, because it's a big responsibility and takes a lot of time."

"He really does care deeply about the community. We really couldn't have asked for a more passionate or caring person, so when he offered, we immediately said yes."

Working with nonprofit organizations is nothing new for Davison. In addition to being a long-time volunteer and board member of the United Way, Davison has worked with Hemophilia of Georgia, Youth Leadership Forsyth and along with his wife, Jinger, co-chairs the Will Davison Memorial Scholarship Fund, in memory of his late son, Will.

Davison will host the kickoff luncheon, which will be held in conjunction with the seventh annual Day of Caring. Like last year's Day of Caring, community volunteers will assist local nonprofit organizations with cleaning, yard work, organizing, cooking, reading to children and a variety of other activities.

Goode said the kickoff event will likely be held at First Baptist Cumming, but the location has not yet been finalized.