The United Way of Bristol has raised 61 percent of its $1.4 million fundraising goal — well ahead of last year’s pace for donations, campaign Chairman Jim Maxwell said Friday.

“This is great news,” Maxwell, publisher of the Bristol Herald Courier and a number of community weeklies in Southwest Virginia, said Friday during a United Way campaign report luncheon held Friday at the newspaper office. “We’re definitely trending in the right direction toward meeting our goal. Now we need to keep up our efforts — and keep our foot on the accelerator.”

The luncheon was attended by some 30 United Way officials and representatives. Maxwell announced to applause that so far the Bristol chapter has raised $854,995, easily clearing the 50 percent mark of its $1.4 million target.

At this same point in 2011, Maxwell noted, the United Way had raised 41 percent – or $535,000 – of its $1.3 million fundraising goal. The chapter eventually met its 2011 target.

“We’ve been getting a good response from all across the community,” Maxwell said regarding the current pace of donations.

The Bristol chapter uses the money raised to continue supporting nearly 30 non-profit agencies that provide a wide range of community services across both Bristol cities.

In addition, it plays a key role in backing Family Promise of Bristol, a recently opened nonprofit that provides shelter and services to homeless families – a growing concern across the Twin City.

“We’re seeing families that have never had to ask for help before,” said Lisa Cofer, the United Way of Bristol’s executive director. “The needs of our community are greater than they’ve ever been before.”

Cofer said she was encouraged by the high rate of donations but cautioned that there is “still a lot of work” to do to reach the $1.4 million mark.

“We’re excited to be this far ahead of the game,” she added.

On Saturday morning, the chapter will hold  Cornhole for a Cause,”  a cornhole tournament designed to raise funds for the current campaign drive. The event, hosted by Bristol Regional Medical Center, will begin at 11 a.m. at the VFW of Bristol on 16th Street in Bristol, Tenn.

There is a $50 entry fee for the tournament and all proceeds support the United Way of Bristol.


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