CLARKSBURG, W.Va. — The United Way of Harrison County’s 2019 campaign is now underway, with a higher fundraising goal than they’ve seen in year’s past.

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The United Way of Harrison County kicks off its 2019 campaign Friday.

Executive Director Tina Yoke announced the figure during the kickoff campaign breakfast Friday morning — a whopping $935,000.

“We’re going to do a few things new this year because our goal is going to be significantly more than it has been in the past,” Yoke said.

Yoke said there’s several reasons that’s led to a needed increase in funds.

“A couple of our organizations had to request for more funding because they’ve been cut with state and federal grants and different sources of funding so they asked us to step up and help with the difference,” she said.

This year’s campaign also includes a new organization, the Arc of Harrison County.

“We funded them a few years ago and because of budget cuts and different budgets cuts and changes in their funding, they’ve requested in their new agency this year,” Yoke said. “They serve persons with disabilities here in Harrison County.”

Nearly 50 community volunteers took part in this summer’s meeting of the Community Investment Committee, which helps set the organizations and figures needed each year.

“I think that’s pretty exciting that we have that many community members that care enough about our organization to volunteer their time,” Yoke said.

And the United Way isn’t wasting any time getting fundraising events started to meet those goals. The first, the 2018 Live United Regatta Cardboard Boat Race Sunday at Maple Lake in Bridgeport.

“The boats will set sail at noon, and we’ve added three different things this year. We’ve added a paddle-board and kayak division, and those are not made out of cardboard,” Yoke said.

The annual boat race has become a popular event, with prizes awarded in each division for first, second and third place.

“There is sometimes a lot of interaction, and it may not always be intended,” Yoke said with a laugh. “Some people are better at maneuvering around the lake with the cardboard boats.”

The second fundraiser is close behind with the Fifth Annual United Way of Harrison County Golf Tournament at 10:30 a.m. Sept. 14.

Yoke said they’re still in need of both teams and tee sponsors for the event, which will be held at the Clarksburg Country Club.

The United Way of Harrison County has been relying more heavily on fundraising events, as Yoke said there’s been a decline in area businesses doing donations through payroll deductions.

“We’ve seen across the board that that’s diminished a little, but we’re going to work to increase that and make it stronger,” she said. “But I think a lot of people really still don’t know what we do and who we are. So if we’re at these events, it gives folks the opportunity to come up and speak with us and learn more about United Way.”

Less than 3,000 currently give to the United Way of Harrison County, and they are always looking for ways to increase that participation.

“We’re going to continue to work on that,” Yoke said. “We’re going to encourage people who haven’t given before to give this year for the first time. Maybe those who have given can increase their pledge a little bit. If all of those things come together, we’ll absolutely reach our goal.”

“Here in Harrison County we’re fortunate because there are many new businesses coming to the area, so we’re looking at approaching some new businesses and having that contact with them so hopefully they will start a payroll campaign,” she said.

The United Way of Harrison County funds 26 agencies throughout Harrison County, which serve residents from infancy to senior citizens.

“Anything from providing food for senior citizens and low-income persons, also leadership training programs like 4H, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts,” Yoke said. “Also, many of our agencies save lives. We have a lot of people who are victims of domestic violence or sexual assault, or help with child abuse programs. I can almost guarantee that we all know somebody who has benefited from a United Way member agency.”

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