United Way campaign off to good start

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 11, 2004

Suffolk News-Herald

When it officially kicked off the 2004 campaign Friday morning, the United Way in Suffolk had already reached 30 percent of its $634,185 goal.

Dozens of officials and volunteers turned out Friday morning outside the Suffolk Seaboard Train Station and Railroad Museum to launch the campaign amid a football game tailgate party atmosphere, replete with marching bands, cheerleaders and hot dogs on the grill.

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Variations on the theme were played out throughout Hampton Roads on the annual Day of Caring, which officially marks the beginning of the 2004 campaign. About 2,000 volunteers spent the day working at various agencies that are served by the United Way.

In Suffolk, 120 volunteers spent the day at seven agencies and three schools doing everything from sorting canned goods for distribution to the needy to winterizing an outdoor swimming pool.

&uot;Through your efforts today, you will make a difference in the lives of individuals…,&uot; Councilman Calvin Jones told the gathering. &uot;Volunteerism is the very fabric of our society.&uot;

Jones, standing in for Suffolk Mayor Bobby Ralph who could not attend because of illness, introduced the Mayor’s All-Star Team of volunteers, who donned football jerseys with numbers on the back that when properly aligned displayed the campaign’s goal.

Suffolk Campaign Chair Kenda Councill thanked the volunteers and the many people who help make United Way in Suffolk a success year in and year out.

&uot;It’s not the money we raise that’s so important, it’s the things we do with the money,&uot; Councill said.

Jones noted that the work being done Friday by the volunteers in Suffolk would save the respective beneficiaries about $30,000.

The head start on reaching the goal comes courtesy of the dozen or so Pace Setter companies that begin their annual campaigns in August. Campaign Vice Chair Winn Winslow announced the 2004 Pace Setters: Ciba Specialty Chemical; Suffolk Department of Economic Development; the Suffolk Circuit Court Clerk’s office; Suffolk Fire Department; both Suffolk Wal-Marts; Suffolk Parks and Recreation; Suffolk Public Utilities; the Treasurer’s Office; Duke Automotive; Obici Hospital; Suffolk Public Schools Administration; the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office; Suffolk Department of Social Services; Target; Suffolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority; and Witt, Mares, Eggleston and Smith.

Together, the Pace Setter companies have already raised about $190,000.Many organizations contributed to the festive atmosphere Friday morning, including cheerleading squads from Lakeland and King’s Fork high schools and the Nansemond-Suffolk Academy Marching Band.

Suffolk Rotarians Billy Chorey, a devout UVA football fan, and Bill Webb, a devout Virginia Tech Hokie, staged competing tailgate parties on the grounds with their vehicles decked out in their school colors.