Wiregrass United Way's pacesetter kickoff campaign

Volunteers bag up meals for hungry families during the Wiregrass United Way's pacesetter kickoff campaign at Wiregrass Rehab Center on Friday morning.

Apparently eight is enough for the Wiregrass United Way, the 41 service agencies it supports, and the 115 companies that have pledged their assistance to WUW.

WUW officials unveiled a goal of $2,888,888.88 for its upcoming fundraising campaign during its Pacesetter Kickoff event at Wiregrass Rehabilitation Center Friday. The number – which has eight eights in it – is slightly higher than last year’s accomplished goal of $2,870,000, said Walter Hill, WUW’s executive director.

“We’ve set another ambitious goal. I know we’re going to blow through that goal,” fundraising campaign chairman Beau Benton said while addressing a room full of volunteers. “When I hear the word pacesetter, I think of marathons. The goal of a pacesetter is to get a crowd of runners to get out and get ahead.”

To determine the goal each year, teams from the six counties WUW serves – Coffee, Dale, Barbour, Henry, Houston, and Geneva – suggest to WUW officials what they think they can accomplish during the campaign, Benton said. WUW officials then compile the numbers, tweaking ever so slightly for rounding purposes.

If WUW reaches its goal, the Wiregrass Foundation will add a $400,000 donation.

The Pacesetter also provided the hundreds of volunteers in attendance with a service project – bagging 30,000 meals for the Wiregrass Area Food Bank in one hour. Hill said officials select that particular service project each year for various reasons.

“We needed something (we can do) in a short amount of time. (People) love supporting the food bank,” he said. “We gave the initial seed money over 20 years ago to start the Wiregrass Area Food Bank, so it’s a perfect tie-in.”

Hill said the hour time limit invigorates the volunteers and allows them to return to work rather quickly.

“They want to help, but they also have a limited amount of time,” he said.

The Wiregrass United Way supports various health and human services agencies like the Christian Mission Center in Enterprise, the Eufaula Boys and Girls Club, and the Dothan branch of the Salvation Army. Representatives from each spoke about their programs during a video shared with the audience.

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