The Franklin County Area United Way is a third of the way to its record-breaking goal of $1 million, according to Paula Obermark, executive director.

Collections and pledges total $343,141 to date, which is 34.3 percent of the goal.

“This represents a slight increase of 2.78 percent in giving compared to last year at this time,” Obermark said.

The pilot company campaign jump-started the annual drive with donations of $75,480, an increase of 21 percent. The five pilot companies held their in-house drives prior to the official start of the overall campaign, which got under way Sept. 5.

It is still early in the campaign, said Brad Mitchell, co-chair, however, the results and reports received are encouraging.

“All of the pilot companies did a great job in getting us started,” he said. “I cannot thank them enough for what they were able to do.”

Mitchell added that the drive is only at the halfway point and it’s not too late to give.

“If there are companies out there that would like to hold a campaign, please let us know by calling the office,” he said. “We also like to remind those who received door hangers during the recent door-to-door drive to send in their contribution.”

Mitchell’s co-chair, Becky Buhr, said she is very optimistic and upbeat about the drive.

“I’m thrilled with how everything has gone to this point,” she said. “We still have a long way to go and we always do at this point in the drive, but I think we’ll get there.”

Buhr said there have been the “usual hiccups” experienced in every drive, but she’s confident the community will rally to reach the goal.

“We do need everyone who can to give no matter how small or large,” she said. “You can make a donation online, by calling the office or mailing in a check. It’s that easy.”

Obermark said many of the area school district drives are almost complete with two reporting substantial gains, one staying about the same, and another reporting significant losses compared to their performance last year.

“The next major influx of funds comes from the student door-to-door drive which was down this year about 24 percent.” she said. “The drive started earlier in the day than normal (because of early dismissal) resulting in many residents not being home to donate. We are hoping that their mail-in donations will offset this.”

Obermark said several company campaigns have been very successful.

Sporlan, a division of Parker Hannifin, reported a 37 percent increase this year, she said, bringing their total to $48,371. NuStar Energy also increased its contributions 11 percent with a total donation of $20,119.

“Several more of our corporate drives are under way,” Obermark said. “A few will not begin their drives until the end of the month, and several other companies are experiencing some challenges, such as layoffs, contract negotiations and acquisitions, which always impacts a campaign.”

The extent of the impact at this point is unknown, she said, but the drive could be delayed as a result.

“We are working hard, however, to start new company campaigns with payroll deductions, as well as increasing employee participation at existing company drives and building awareness of United Way services and programs in the outlying areas of the county that benefit their residents, neighbors and co-workers,” she said.

To meet the $1 million goal, which is a 12.5 percent increase, existing donors will have to increase their donation 13 cents for every dollar they donated last year, Obermark said.

Mitchell and Buhr encourage residents to donate through their company employee payroll deduction programs if available, and if not, then through direct mail or online at

“If a company or organization is interested in conducting an employee drive or special event to benefit the United Way, they simply need to call us at 636-239-1018 or email,” Obermark said.