United Way kicks off 2023-24 campaign

United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades celebrated its 2023-24 Campaign Kickoff at the Barbara B. Mann Performing Arts Hall in Fort Myers, where more than 600 business, nonprofits and community leaders gathered to hear updates from the organization. Event sponsors included Busey Bank, Uhler, Vertich, and White Advisors and Publix Super Markets.

“We are so blessed here in Lee County, to have heroes walking among us every single day. Anyone can be a hero,” said Board Chair Noelle Branning. “We all have a capacity to help someone else, to know when someone needs that hand, and to recognize that we can do better. We all can be heroes today.”

Campaign Co-chairs Kevin Karnes and Jay Santos spoke about the Power of Uniting Heroes and the importance of Inspiring Hope. They took turns describing how United Way makes a difference in everyone’s lives and how anyone can be a part of that difference.

Pacesetter Co-chairs Carolyn Rogers and Gary Matter gave updates about companies and organizations that ran their United Way campaigns early to set the pace for the rest of the community. Pacesetter giving, along with early Alexis de Tocqueville Society giving (individuals who contribute $10,000+ annually) has put United Way at 52% of the 2023-24 campaign goal of $11,288,681. There are currently 175 Pacesetters with 549 individuals who give at the Keel Club level (donations of $1,000+ annually), including 88 who are Alexis de Tocqueville donors. The total raised thus far is $5,926,048.

The top eight Pacesetter companies are:
1. Publix Super Markets 2021 – $1,007,172
2. Carol Beesley’s Paw Prints – $298,000
3. LCEC – $210,000
4. Lee Health – $204,903
5. Lee Board of County Commissioners – $140,000
6. O’Donnell Landscaping, Inc. – $135,013
7. United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades Employee Campaign – $112,076
8. The School District of Lee County – $100,075

“We cannot thank our Pacesetters enough for the great start to this important campaign,” Karnes said. “The $11.3 million dollar goal is essential to making sure our coworkers, family, friends and neighbors continue to get the help they need.”

“We are thankful to all of our donors and volunteers for deeply caring about our community and being true heroes by providing the hope for a better tomorrow,” Santos added. “What an amazing start to such an important campaign for our community.”

A highlight of the Campaign Kickoff was when former Campaign Co-chairs Beth Hendry and John Clinger gave away a two-year Acura Integra lease from Scanlon Auto Group, a longtime supporter. This marks the 23rd year that Scanlon has donated a vehicle to one generous United Way supporter who contributes at least $240 annually through a payroll deduction. This year, Pamela Jenkins-Caggiano of LARC, Inc. was the lucky winner.

All money raised through the United Way campaign stays in the local community to help support the local human service network of partner agencies. United Way Partner Agencies such as Harry Chapin Food Bank, Community Cooperative, Abuse Counseling and Treatment, Children’s Advocacy Center, Literacy Council Gulf Coast and Boys & Girls Clubs serve a diverse range of needs in the community.

In addition to raising funds for human service organizations, United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies, helping them work together to focus on issues that continue to improve lives. United Way’s mission as a volunteer-driven organization is to improve the quality of life for all people in our community.

United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades was established in 1957 and has raised and distributed more than $225 million since that time. For more information, please call 239-433-2000 or visit UnitedWayLee.org.

About United Way
In addition to raising funds for human service organizations in our community, United Way promotes partnerships and collaborations among agencies, helping them to work together focusing on issues that continue to improve lives. United Way is dedicated to improving the quality of life for all people in our community. United Way of Lee, Hendry, and Glades was established in 1957 and over $225 million has been raised and distributed since that time. For more information, please call 239-433-2000 or visit UnitedWayLee.org.

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