Holiday carols, a glittering Christmas tree, balloons and snacks helped create a festive atmosphere Wednesday when the Area Wide United Way announced it exceeded its annual fund-raising goal of $875,000.
As of this week, the campaign raised $877,459 with more contributions expected, chairman Steven C. Bjelich said. The total amount raised will be announced in late January.
The goal was lower this year to reflect a softer economy.
Last year, local contributors donated $901,065 during the 2000 fund-raising campaign -- a record and a 10 percent increase over the previous year's total.
To help remind volunteers what they are working for, Cheryl Robb-Welch, executive director of Safe House for Women, read poems written by one of the women who escaped an abusive relationship by turning to the safe house. United Way helps fund the safe house.
Children from the Cape Civic Center sang "The Twelve Days of Christmas" and "Jingle Bells."
Nancy Jernigan, United Way executive director, reflected briefly on the beginning of the campaign. The fund-raising kickoff, originally scheduled for Sept. 11 at the SEMO District Fair, was held instead in a very somber atmosphere a few days later. The terrorist attacks occurred Sept. 11.
Wednesday, the "Make Someone Happy" motto and high spirits were back, and music filled the atrium at Dempster Hall on the campus of Southeast Missouri State University, where the event was held.
Key campaign volunteers and outstanding employee campaigns were recognized at the celebration.
Procter & Gamble Co. was recognized as the largest account, raising more than $225,000.
More than 90 local companies ran internal employee campaigns, with those contributions making up more than 75 percent of funds raised.
Funds raised will support 53 programs within 32 agencies in Cape Girardeau, Jackson, Mo., and Scott City, Mo.
Wow awards given for outstanding campaigns went to:
Largest percentage increase: Jackson public schools, which increased from $6,140 last year to $22,819 in 2001, a 272 percent increase.
Highest per capita: First National Bank, with a per capita giving of $138.
Outstanding first year: D&K Health Care, raising $3,894, with an employee per capita of $42.
Largest increase in Lorimier Givers, minimum $250: St. Francis Medical Center. In 2000, the hospital had 56 Lorimier Givers and this year 73.
Largest contributor from a United Way agency: Boy Scouts of America, which contributed $1,872, $374 per capita.
Cabinet volunteers recognized included Larry Dunger, Dennis Marchi, Ken Dobbins, Kathy Bertrand, Janet Esicar, Derieck Hodges, David Shell, Melvin Gateley, Dan Muser, Laurel Adkisson and Charlie Herbst.
Other volunteers thanked were Doug Watson, John Thompson, Bob Cleek, Paul Hawkins, Howard Alexander, Jackie Griffith, Jon Rust, Rex Rust, David Feuerhahn, Mark Johnson, Paul Short, Marsha Haskell, William Thorpe and Jim Hillin.
335-6611, extension 160