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How to help
•To contribute to the United Way’s Community Campaign, go to or call 422-4776 and ask for the staff accountant
Samuel Hoffman | The Journal Gazette
Volunteers pick up Live United T-shirts at the United Way 2012 Community Campaign kickoff at Sweetwater Sound on Thursday.

United Way goal $5.4 million

The United Way of Allen County is challenging its members, local businesses and local residents to up the ante when donating this year.

About 50 people donned white “Live United” T-shirts Thursday and stood on a stage inside Sweetwater Sound as officials announced that United Way of Allen County hopes to raise $5.4 million for its 2012 Community Campaign.

That’s a 6 percent increase from last year’s effort, officials said.

“The goal of (raising that) in this economic environment is a challenging one, but one we can achieve,” said Jeff Miller, campaign chairman this year.

Organization officials outlined four key issues – education, income, basic needs and health – this money will address, which includes the following specific goals:

•Have children enter kindergarten ready to learn

•Have children read at grade level by the end of third grade

•Ensure youth succeed in school

•Ensure youth make successful transition from school to adulthood

•Help families live productive and economically stable lives

•Assist seniors and people with disabilities maintain independence

•Ensure that individuals and families have food, shelter and access to health care

Todd Stephenson, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of Allen County, said that among the goals, special emphasis will be put on the youngest in Allen County so that children don’t fall behind in school. The earlier children can become educated, the better the chance they will become productive adults, Stephenson said.

Officials say about 300 area businesses run workplace campaigns with about 12,000 people making a donation each year. At Thursday’s announcement, officials said they hoped to increase gifts from businesses and individuals who already give, as well as attract new donors.

A grant from the Indiana Association of United Ways, which matches dollar for dollar new gifts of at least $100 and existing gifts that increase to a level of at least $500, will also help, officials said.