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OUR VIEW: Hard work once again pays off for United Way

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opinion Mitchell,South Dakota 57301 http://www.mitchellrepublic.com/sites/default/files/styles/square_300/public/fieldimages/18/0731/our-view_47.jpg?itok=nBHkZxXs
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OUR VIEW: Hard work once again pays off for United Way
Mitchell South Dakota 120 South Lawler 57301

Those who attended last week's United Way luncheon probably noticed the thankful sigh of relief by members of the organization. After all, raising nearly a half-million dollars is not an easy task, and each year there are misgivings and worries that the annual goal won't be reached.

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During the annual luncheon at the Ramada Inn, the club once again unfurled a sign in typical ceremonial pomp, revealing that $437,738 was raised during the 2011 campaign, which began in August with the United Way Day of Caring and ended a week ago. That total isn't as much as United Way was raising in its heyday five years ago, but it's still a notable amount and will go to many, many good causes. Given the strength of the economy in recent years, United Way's work is commendable, indeed. Consider this: United Way's goal has risen 7.59 percent since 2003 -- from $395,000 to $425,000 -- but actual giving has increased 9.35 percent. It hasn't been a smooth decade, either. The local manufacturing industry was terribly affected by the recession of 2008-09, and layoffs dominated headlines. The spirit of giving to United Way survived, but the organization adapted by lowering its goal in 2009 -- the first time such a measure was taken. The goal was raised in 2010, but it was dropped again in 2011 to better reflect the economy. Here are the annual goals and the results of each fundraising drive since 2003:

2003 Goal, $395,000 Actual, $400,297

2004 Goal, $405,000 Actual, $407,340

2005 Goal, $412,000 Actual, $431,707

2006 Goal, $425,000 Actual, $446,576

2007 Goal, $440,000 Actual, $460,317

2008 Goal, $458,000 Actual, $458,317

2009 Goal, $446,000 Actual, $448,790

2010 Goal, $450,000 Actual, $450,096

2011 Goal, $425,000 Actual, $437,738

The highlights are obvious, such as the 2006 and 2007 drives, each of which netted $20,000 more than their goals. The lowlights are noticeable, too. What hasn't been obvious is the effort made by the United Way to achieve its goals in the face of economic adversity.

Perhaps forgotten are the many lastminute phone calls that went out in 2008, 2009 and 2010 that helped bring the total in above plan. And we recall United Way members collecting donations on the street in front of the Corn Palace during tough times.

Yet the goals were achieved -- not only through the hard work of the United Way fundraising officials, but also through the generosity of Mitchell residents.

In the end, the beneficiaries are the many agencies that receive United Way funding.

After three years of close calls, United Way again has shattered its fundraising goal. The efforts of United Way president Terry Torgerson, campaign chairman Ryan Huber, treasurer Pat Essig and local United Way director Dave Stevens are worthy of praise.

Likewise, everyone who gave to United Way this year also deserves credit. Without those people, United Way couldn't make it, and what a terrible shame that would be.

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