The Fort Hays State University community exceeded its campaign goal for the 2003 United Way fund drive, raising nearly $32,000 for the member agencies that provide a variety of needed services for the citizens of Ellis County.
Dr. Edward H. Hammond, FHSU president and chair of the campus drive, announced that as of Wednesday, the total for contributions on the campus was $31,916. The campaign on campus ended last Friday, but a few contributions continue to trickle in. He said the contributions exceeded the university's goal of $28,000 by $3,916 and represented more than 10 percent of the United Way of Ellis County's overall goal of $310,000.
Three representatives of the United Way of Ellis County -- Sue Rouse, executive director; Christie Brungardt, president of the board of directors; and Larry Berg, the 2003 campaign chair -- attended the Thursday morning news conference on the FHSU campus. Berg, of Midwest Energy, thanked President Hammond and the university community for providing such outstanding support to the campaign. He reported that the county drive was nearing $200,000, which represents about 64 percent of the $310,000 goal.
"The university's support of the local agencies funded by the United Way shows their commitment to building a strong, healthy community where neighbors care for one another," Berg said.
Brungardt, who is an instructor of Leadership Studies at FHSU, said the university has been a major player in the success of the United Way during its 50-year history in Ellis County. Brungardt said the university's involvement began in 1953 when Dr. Robert T. McGrath, an FHSU faculty member, led the first United Way campaign. "The faculty and staff have given not only their money but also their time to many United Way agencies," she said. "University faculty were instrumental in organizing the Northwest Kansas Family Shelter and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA) of the High Plains. University leadership provided the first accessible transportation through an Easter Seals van now operated by the Western Kansas Association on Concerns of the Disabled. A strong partnership with the Hays Area Children?s Center provides a learning lab for university students while giving our most vulnerable citizens an opportunity for a higher quality of life."
President Hammond noted that faculty, students and staff from the university also play a vital role by providing many of the rank-and-file volunteers who assist in the operations of the United Way's member agencies.
The president said that besides the record total in contributions, he was heartened by the wide participation in the United Way fund drive by university employees. There were 667 responses, which represent 94 percent of the employees. Out of the 86 units at FHSU, 70 reached 100-percent participation.
"We ask each employee to give thoughtful consideration and return the card, even if he or she is not able to give anything that year," he explained. "To show my appreciation, I will entertain all the members of the 100-percent units in Victor E. Lounge at basketball games during the coming season."
He added that 25 of the units won Gold Award status, which means they gave $500 or more plus they either had 100-percent giving or averaged a gift of at least $25 per person.