Celebrating 60 years of building better communities, the Franklin County Area United Way campaign gets under way this week.

The United Way drive is the largest annual charitable drive in the county. It runs through Oct. 31.

This year’s goal of $1,000,060 is a nod to its six decades in operation and due to increased needs.

The funds raised will benefit 48 area agencies and programs in the area, according to David Strubberg, United Way board president and campaign co-chair.

This past year, more than 70,000 people in 35 neighboring communities were touched by these services.

“That’s one out of every three people in the Greater Franklin County area,” Strubberg noted.

And it’s not all in the area of emergency assistance which many people associate with the United Way, said Kim Strubberg, United Way executive director.

“We also provide funding to the 4-H programs, Scouting, senior centers, summer programs for kids, the disabled, and the list goes on,” she said.

“We help to make the community better in all areas,” David Strubberg added.

2013 Goal

This year’s goal is a slight increase over 2012 when the United Way hit the $1 million mark for the first time.

“There was a lot of discussion on what to set the goal at this year and quite honestly we feared a hangover from last year’s campaign because we did have to extend the drive to reach our goal,” David Strubberg said.

“But even though we’ve seen a slight improvement in the economy the needs are still great,” he said. “Even hitting $1 million last year we were not able to fill all of the requests from our member agencies.”

Stephen Trentmann, United Way board vice president and campaign co-chair, said the board feels the new goal is attainable if everyone steps up.

Trentmann said donors are being asked to give in increments of $60 in celebration’s of the United Way’s 60 years.

Longtime contributors are asked to consider increasing their gift by $60 and new supporters are asked to start at $60 if possible.

“I think those small victories will really make a difference,” he said.

David Strubberg said for employees donating through payroll deductions, a $60 donation is only $5 per month.

“Sixty dollars in the hands of United Way’s agencies can provide more than anyone can imagine,” he said.

Pilot Campaign

United Way officials said the drive is already off to a great start thanks to the early success of its pilot companies.

Each year, the United Way selects five companies to hold an advance campaign to help jumpstart the drive.

The pilot companies this year are Clemco Industries, Washington; Heritage Community Bank, with branches in Union and Marthasville; Union School District; the Washington Schnucks store; and Homeyer Precision Manufacturing, Washington/Marthasville.

Combined, the five companies have raised nearly $70,000 and several have in-house drives that are still going or special promotions planned.

“These companies have done a phenomenal job,” said Kim Strubberg, “I am so proud of each and every one of them.”

Clemco has raised $23,000 to date, up nearly $2,000 or 8.5 percent from last year.

Arnie Sallaberry, Clemco president, said the company was “humbled” to have been chosen as a pilot company.

“We all feel grateful for the good work that the United Way does and the thousands of people who are helped every year right here in our backyard through the efforts of the United Way agencies,” he said. “Our employees stepped up to the plate again this year and I’m proud to be associated with every one of them.”

Heritage Community Bank brought in $11,043, a 222 percent increase over last year. The bank also reported 100 percent employee participation.

“We knew what a responsibility it would be to tackle the 2013 campaign as a pilot company and we are so pleased with the response we received from those associated with our organization,” said Trent Hendrickson, Heritage Community Bank senior vice president.

“To be able to raise funds in the communities we serve for such a worthwhile cause is always an honor,” he added.

The Union School District has increased its donation this year by 133 percent, bringing in $16,000 to date.

School Administrator Leslie Lause said the district is “thrilled” to be a pilot company, noting more than 14,000 people in the Union community were assisted by United Way organizations last year.

“We set our district goal at $10,000 and our generous staff donated over $16,000,” she said, adding more fund-raisers are planned.

Homeyer Precision Manufacturing has raised over $10,000 to date and is still holding raffles and has an Annie Oakley Night planned for its employees and families later this month. The company also matches its employee donations dollar for dollar.

“Getting our team (of employees) involved was easy as many see how the United Way helps others,” said Karen Dierking, Homeyer HR manager. “One person can’t change the world, but a team can change the world of one person.”

The Washington Schnucks store campaign is ongoing as well, but already has brought in $9,412 — an increase of 14 percent over last year.

The mission of the United Way is building better communities through the provision of health and human services in four areas: strengthening families; nurturing children; assisting the elderly and disabled; and providing emergency services.

For more information on how to participate or to make a donation, people may call the United Way offices at 636-239-1018 or visit www.franklincountyunitedway.org.