By DON FLETCHER
News Staff Writer
Atmore’s United Fund officials announced a lofty goal during the organization’s annual campaign kickoff, held Wednesday, October 15, at Atmore Public Library. The local “umbrella” funding agency hopes to raise more than $39,000 to help fund nine separate agencies.
“We’re excited about this coming fundraising year; we always look forward to it,” said Andrew Garner, who serves as president and vice-president of the local organization. “Our campaign goal is $39,200. Last year, we raised about $22,000, but we had a couple of additional agencies apply this year.”
This year’s UF money will be divided between Escambia County Cooperative Library System, Atmore Public Library, Escambia County Health Care Authority (for its Wheels of Wellness program), Pride of Atmore, Atmore Area Christian Care Ministry, Atmore Babe Ruth / Cal Ripken baseball programs, Unity in the Community, Concerned Citizens of Atmore, Progressive Civic and Recreational Club and Greater Escambia Council for the Arts.
Garner told the 17 individuals, most of whom represented receiving agencies, they were the reason United Fund existed.
“As I say every year, we’re here because of you,” he said. “We want to help you.”
There was a brief discussion of the difference in trying to raise United Fund money now and trying to raise it several years ago.
“Historically, United Fund was the fundraising arm for all of Atmore,” said Bub Gideons. “Back in the day, nobody raised their own funds; now everybody fundraises.”
Murray Johnson agreed. He recalled one past campaign that resulted in a more than significant amount of donations.
“We raised about $120,000 one year,” he said. “We used to go door-to-door, but you can’t do that anymore. People loved to serve back then; it was more of a community effort.”
Gideons said the local effort has almost always met its goal, despite all the competition.
“It’s actually phenomenal, what UF raises, with everybody trying to raise funds,” he said. “Used to, United Fund would raise the funds, and everybody would come to this (the annual gathering) and get all their money here. The dynamic’s changed.”