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Local Businesses, Employees Join Together in Support of United Way

Volunteers arrive for the United Way Day of Caring.
Volunteers arrive for the United Way Day of Caring.

“Live United,” this year’s campaign theme for United Way of Roanoke Valley, has turned out to be an appropriate one as the 26 “Pacesetter Companies” have so far collectively raised $1.6 million. That’s about $300,000 ahead of the amount raised by this time last year, according to United Way officials.

Hundreds of guests, including campaign leaders, managers, volunteers and 6th District Congressman Bob Goodlatte, attended a luncheon held during the 2009 Campaign Kickoff Rally on September 3 at the ADMMicro building off Hershberger Road last week.  The William Penn Duo provided musical entertainment.

The ball started rolling when the Pacesetter Companies began the initial fundraising for United Way earlier this summer.  Setting the pace for the rest of the community are 26 businesses, including Advance Auto Parts, Allstate National Support Center, City of Salem, Elizabeth Arden, First Citizens Bank, Kroger Mid-Atlantic, Roanoke County Schools and Woods Rogers.

Sponsored by Allstate, the traditional Day of Caring last week drew more than 100 volunteers from businesses throughout the community to work on special projects at organizations that are partners with United Way.  Those projects included: Novozymes employees landscaping at Goodwill Industries, WDBJ employees (including the anchors) reading to the children at Northwest Child Development Center, Cox Communications employees landscaping and working on planter boxes at Adult Care Center, and Yokohoma employees folding envelopes at Child Health Investment Partnership (CHIP).

In response to United Way’s request for additional resources, the Day of Caring also brought people out in droves to drop off back-to-school clothing and non-perishable food items in order to meet the needs of the many families who are struggling to make ends meet.  United Way invited some of their partner agencies to collect the donated items at the end of the day to help the families they work with.  Several companies volunteered to conduct drives and drop off donations.

Companies and their “loaned executives” for the 2009 United Way Campaign include Chair Sean Thaker, sponsored by Allstate; Carol Huntley-Weber, Rhonda Fisher, Jeff DeBell, Katie Houck, and Daniel Smith sponsored by Appalachian Power Company; Bill Gore sponsored by RGC Resources, and Tisha Wilson sponsored by Allstate National Support Center.

This year’s Campaign Chair Dan Carson, from Appalachian Power Company, said at the luncheon that the “mission is to mobilize caring power here in the Roanoke Valley…I think that mission is being accomplished here today.”

United Way of Roanoke Valley President & CEO Frank Rogan observed that despite the sluggish state of the economy, many people are giving more, which may “ironically [be] because of the lean times.”

Each fall, the United Way kickoff begins the campaign in earnest, as participating businesses encourage employees to commit to donations in the form of payroll deduction or a lump sum contribution. This year United Way celebrates 85 years of caring for vulnerable people in the Roanoke Valley.  To learn more about United Way, located at 325 Campbell Avenue, visit or call (540) 777-4200.

Susan Ayers
[email protected]

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