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Home arrow News arrow Local News arrow UNITED WAY LAUNCHES DRIVE


United Way will celebrate La Grande — and the rest of Union County — when it kicks off its annual campaign during the city festival tonight.

The umbrella organization that funds 12 Union County organizations benefiting youth and adults has set a modest goal of $114,000 for the 2003 campaign, only $1,000 higher than last year. The agencies will be represented at Celebrate La Grande.

"The needs aren't going away," said Ted Kramer, chairman of the United Way board of directors. "If anything, the needs have increased; they haven't diminished."

Kramer said history shows that when times are tough, those who have jobs and stable incomes often give more than when times are good.

This year, United Way has added the Grande Ronde Youth Orchestra to its list of beneficiaries and will award the orchestra $1,800 if the overall goal is met.

Other organizations are:

• Shelter From the Storm, an organization that advocates for and helps victims of domestic violence, $13,000;

• Union County Search and Rescue, $3,500;

• Kids Club, a non-profit after-school day care center, $6,000;

• Elgin Food Bank, $2,000;

• Neighbor to Neighbor, an all-volunteer organization that provides help for people in need, $12,000;

• Union County Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA), an organization that works with the court and advocates for child abuse victims, $8,000;

• American Red Cross, $8,000;

• Silver Sage Girl Scout Council, $7,000

• Boy Scouts of America, Blue Mountain Council, $12,500;

• The Salvation Army, $17,600;

• Mount Emily Safe Center, a place where children can be interviewed about suspected child abuse, $4,000.

"We stress that all the money raised in Union County stays in Union County," said Merle Comfort, 2003 campaign chairman.

Comfort, a dental laboratory technician at Comfort Dental Lab in La Grande, will lead a group of volunteers who will seek donations from individuals, as well as businesses and industries throughout Union County.

"United Way is an all-volunteer organization," Comfort said. "We need to make sure the word gets out."

Payroll deduction funds from the 2002 campaign are still being received by United Way, Comfort said, and the final amount probably won't be known before the end of the year.

Comfort said among the first dollars collected for 2003 were the approximately $5,300 raised through The Observer's benefit golf tournament in August.

Comfort, who served eight years on the La Grande School Board, said he has become involved in United Way because "if you're going to be in the community, you should be involved in the community."

— Alice Perry Linker

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