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Organization seeks record donations in annual fund drive

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Gary Kubancsek wanted one thing for his son with special needs — to be able to play the same as other boys his age.

Through Boy Scouts, J.J. Kubancsek completes projects, goes camping and plays with his peers.

“When we go to Boy Scouts, he isn’t a youth with special needs, he is a boy,” Kubancsek said.


Kubancsek shared their story in front of hundreds of people at United Way’s kickoff breakfast Thursday.

The agency announced its fundraising goal this year, $1.45 million, the highest amount ever.

United Way helps support 19 nonprofit agencies in the county, including Boy Scouts of America, and runs eight programs, such as Operation Bundle Up and Christmas Angels.

In total, 42,000 people were helped last year by United Way-funded agencies and programs.

The money for the agencies and programs comes from employee pledges, corporate gifts and individual donations. Companies that ran early employee campaigns already have raised more than $87,000.

This year, the agency also can receive a grant of up to $137,000 from the Indiana Association of United Ways. The dollars from the grant are matching. So, if a qualifying donor gives money toward the agency’s overall goal, grant money will be given to the United Way, according to Nancy Lohr Plake, executive director.

Grant money will be used to buy school supplies for the agency’s Fast Track program, which gives school supplies to needy families, and to help conduct a study on homelessness in the county.

Money is needed for Fast Track to buy school supplies a year ahead. A balanced school calendar has put strains on supply donations, since there is less time to conduct events that bring in the donated school supplies, Plake has said.

Money from the grant also will be used for a study looking at how big of a problem homelessness is in the county and what a long-term solution to the problem would look like, Plake said. United Way agencies reported getting multiple calls from families seeking help for shelter. The study will allow United Way to see how similar communities handle homeless issues, she said.

United Way is counting on people who might give more since their money will be matched to help the county, she said. United Way’s goal increases nearly every year.

“People are motivated by knowing that their gift will be matched by the grant,” she said.

Last year’s campaign raised $1.43 million. The goal has been met nearly every year, Plake said.

This year’s goal is 1.7 percent more than what was raised last year.

She said United Way leaders hope to raise the money for this year’s goal by adding more employee campaigns in manufacturing and health care in the county and targeting new businesses.

Small-business campaigns haven’t grown in the past few years, and those businesses will be targeted with presentations to persuade companies and employees to donate, she said.

Local business owners may be more apt to give and help run employee campaigns since they are living and working in the community, said John Lorentzen, campaign chairman.

If the fundraising goal isn’t met, United Way might have to cut back the amount of money it gives to agencies, Plake said.

“There is no more room to dip into reserves,” she said.

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