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United Way of Armstrong County sets sights on $150K donation goal

| Thursday, Nov. 7, 2013, 12:06 p.m.
Louis B. Ruediger | Leader Times
Armstrong County United Way Board of Directors Vice President Tiffany Harkleroad, is pictured with donated books as part of the organization's book drive to help children growing up in low income households. Wednesday November 6, 2013

The United Way of Armstrong County kicked off its 2014 campaign drive on Nov. 1 with a goal of reaching its $150,000 donation mark by the end of February to help fund community programs that focus on income, education and health.

Last year's campaign fell short of that same goal amount — coming in at about $127,000, said Executive Director Emily Boarts.

As a result, Boarts said, the nonprofit agency had to make budget cuts and was forced to lay off a staff member.

“It's been tough for us,” she said. “So we're really hoping we reach our (2014) goal so we can allocate to our agencies that really need it.”

The United Way has selected 10 area agencies for funding in 2014: ARC Manor, Community Action Mentoring Program, Crooked Creek Environmental Learning Center, Life Choices, Lifesteps, Mechling-Shakley Veterans Center, Orphans of the Storm, Richard G. Snyder YMCA, The Salvation Army and the Salvation Army Service Unit.

People can specify which of those organizations they would like to donate to, or they can designate another nonprofit, such as an area church, as the recipient for their monetary gifts or pledges, Boarts said.

“We're trying to get the whole community involved,” Boarts said.

So far, she said, there has been a big campaign push through payroll donations set up through local businesses.

People can make an online donation at www.uwarmco.org or by sending a donation to the United Way of Armstrong County, 705 Butler Road, Kittanning, PA 16201.

Donors can choose to make a one-time gift or be billed on a quarterly basis.

In an effort to bring in extra revenue for the campaign, the United Way is selling $5 raffle tickets for a chance to win a hunting rifle. The drawing will be held on Dec. 2.

And for those who wish to give the gift of literacy, a book drive — spearheaded by United Way — continues throughout November.

New and gently used books, targeting preschool through sixth-grade reading levels, will be distributed through a number of agencies to families in need, Boarts said.

The push came as a way to generate community interest in the United Way's newly established Women's Leadership Council, which was formed earlier this year.

The council is made up of women affiliated with the United Way and from the broader community who want to help promote literacy, said Tiffany Harkleroad, vice president of the county's United Way Board of Directors.

Harkleroad, who is a member of the Women's Leadership Council and this year's fundraising campaign chairperson, said the book drive is the first project organized by the Leadership Council to help bridge the literacy gap among children growing up in low-income households.

It will be the first of many, she said, noting that more literacy-focused events are planned for the upcoming months.

Book donations can be dropped off at the following locations: United Way, St. John's Lutheran Church, F&M Bank, Pauls Auto Parts, Harvest Community Church and L.A. Taco.

More information can be found at uwarmco.org or by calling 724-543-2610.

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