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Campaign goal: $500,000

By Bethany Knipp

United Way of Riley County, an organization that raises money and connects volunteers to nonprofit social service programs, revealed its fundraising goal for 2014 at a campaign kickoff Saturday.

The new goal is $500,000. Leeann Smith Desper, United Way’s executive director, said it’s a smaller goal than last year. She said United Way hoped to raise $525,000 a year ago, but fell a little short.

“We felt like $500,000 was very achievable,” she said. Even though the goal wasn’t met last year, the more than 20 organizations United Way supports in Riley County and also Clay, Marshall, Pottawatomie, Wabaunsee and Washington counties were still fully funded. United Way tapped its reserve to fund the organizations.

One nonprofit in Manhattan that gets funding from United Way is the Crisis Center, which helps victims of domestic violence with 24-hour hotlines and face-to-face crisis intervention.

The Crisis Center’s executive director, Judy Davis, said the center received $42,000 for 2013 from United Way, and if the new goal is met, it will get the same amount for 2014.

Krista Hahn of Community Health Ministry in Wamego said her organization gets $30,000 from United Way for its school lunch and dental programs.

Hahn said Community Health Ministry is looking to expand its dental program, which provides some free oral health care for children and the elderly, groups whose age and socioeconomic status make them vulnerable to dental problems. She said the organization sought help from United Way because Community Health Ministry provides $180,000 in dental work and collects 25 percent of that.

United Way has already raised about 30 percent of its goal with the help of its pacesetter companies, which start fundraising early. With that head start, United Way has made more than $150,000, an achievement since the group’s original pacesetter goal was $100,000.

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