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United Way thanks donors

The United Way of South Hampton Roads on Thursday celebrated its 2013-2014 campaign with a paradise-themed luncheon at the Virginia Beach Convention Center.

Companies, city governments and school systems were honored for their contributions to the United Way, and some United Way programs and partner agencies were highlighted.

“The heart of the United Way lies in you,” said Carol McCormack, president and chief executive officer of the United Way of South Hampton Roads. “We could not be more proud.”

Representatives from the city of Suffolk, whose campaign raised $87,776, were in attendance.

“United Way does a great job reaching out to other agencies and really does help the Suffolk community,” said Jason Pittman, a Parks and Recreation employee. “United Way is a good conduit for us to be able to donate money and get that money to where it needs to go.”

Pittman said the city has a good group of coordinators promoting different fundraisers and said the city is grateful for employees’ support of the fundraisers. Recently, they have included doughnut sales, a flea market, spirit nights at Chick-fil-A and a golf tournament.

Suffolk Public Schools raised $41,333.

“We support United Way, because the agencies work together to improve the community and directly impact the lives of our staff and students,” said school division spokeswoman Bethanne Bradshaw. “We are especially proud of how much money our students raise in the annual United Way campaign, because it teaches them the importance of giving back.”

In addition to the total raised by school staff, Suffolk students raised $13,581. While Suffolk has the smallest school division of the five South Hampton Roads cities, its student total bested some neighboring jurisdictions.

At Isle of Wight Public Schools, Storm Knight, a Suffolk resident and second-grade teacher at Hardy Elementary School, said United Way “supports some of the things I believe in, like Boy Scouts.” It also assists the Isle of Wight Education Foundation, which gives grants to classroom teachers.

McCormack noted that several Suffolk companies — particularly Birdsong Peanuts and Planters — have very successful campaigns.

“It’s so much fun to work with these manufacturers out in Suffolk,” she said. “They have to wait until the peanut harvest is done before they start their United Way campaign.”

Sentara Healthcare was recognized for topping the $1 million mark for the third year in a row.

Wells Fargo, TowneBank, Bank of America, Sentara Healthcare, Bon Secours Hampton Roads, Harris Teeter, Target, Dominion Virginia Power and IBEW 50, Hampton Roads Sanitation District and Birdsong Peanuts also were honored for being among the top three campaigns in their respective industries.

Companies that were honored for their top corporate gifts included Dominion Virginia Power ($100,000-$124,000); SunTrust, Wells Fargo and Bank of America ($50,000-$99,000); TowneBank ($26,000-$49,000); Birdsong Peanuts, BB&T, Walmart and Sentara ($16,000-$25,000); and BASF ($10,000-$15,000).

Companies that were honored for the Trailblazer Awards met criteria including a participation rate of at least 60 percent, a per capita gift of $75 per person or higher and an average gift of $150 per person or higher. Meeting one of the criteria earned the bronze award, while two earned the silver and all three netted the gold.

  • Gold: AAA of Tidewater, BB&T, Birdsong Peanuts, Columbia Gas of Virginia, Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, Monarch Bank, The Up Center, TowneBank, United Way of South Hampton Roads
  • Silver: Bank of America, BASF Corporation, Dominion Virginia Power and IBEW 50, Enterprise Rent-a-Car, Harris Teeter, Planters and UAW 2426, SunTrust Bank, The Salvation Army
  • Bronze: American Red Cross, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, QVC, Sentara Healthcare, Taylor’s Do-it Centers

Companies that had notable campaign increases included:

  • 25-49 percent — Wells Fargo
  • 10-24 percent — AAA of Tidewater, Bon Secours of Hampton Roads, Columbia Gas of Virginia, Girl Scout Council of Colonial Coast, Hampton Roads Sanitation District, Target