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United Way kickoff celebration planned for Sept. 11

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WATERTOWN — Helping to raise money for the community, the United Way of Northern New York decided to switch its campaign kickoff to an evening celebration, giving more community members, families and businesses a chance to participate.

Scheduled for 5:30 p.m. Sept. 11 at the Dulles State Office Building, the 2014 campaign kickoff will also give community members an opportunity to learn about state employees’ contributions to the annual effort.

“This year we’re setting a goal of $750,000 for the three counties,” said Robert D. Gorman, chief executive officer. “Based on some early conversations with our business community, we believe that’s a reasonable (goal) this year.”

That figure excludes funds collected through the State Employees Federated Appeal. With the kickoff being held at the State Office Building, Mr. Gorman said, he is hoping many state employees will be able to attend. SEFA, he said, contracts with the United Way to handle and distribute to charities donations made through the appeal. More than $100,000 is collected through that effort locally each year.

Some state employees choose to donate to the United Way, which then disburses funds each spring to nonprofit agencies throughout Jefferson, Lewis and St. Lawrence counties.

Many north country businesses and nonprofit agencies also run United Way campaigns, and those that have yet to do so are encouraged to attend the kickoff celebration and learn more about the process, Mr. Gorman said.

“We’re targeting everybody,” he said, regarding attendance at the event.

The kickoff will begin in the lobby of the State Office Building, and food will be provided by the Fairgrounds Inn, Coleman’s Corner, Art’s Jug, Sboro’s Restaurant and Chop House, Cavallario’s Cucina and Shorty’s Place. Drinks will be provided by Pepsi, and Mark Mason will provide entertainment.

A silent auction also will take place, where a week’s stay at a house at Holden Beach, N.C., and a private cooking class for eight at Farm House Kitchen, Sackets Harbor, will be awarded.

Raffles will be held, giving attendees chances to win various gift baskets, a paddle board session for six at Sackets Harbor, a $100 Amazon gift card and a 46-inch television.

A sign-up effort for nonprofit agencies and businesses to volunteer to help build a Thousand Islands Area Habitat for Humanity house in Carthage in 2015 will take place. According to a United Way news release, the Watertown Family Y, Watertown Urban Mission and Volunteer Transportation Center already have committed to the project.

In recognition of the kickoff being held on the anniversary of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, a remembrance ceremony will take place in the auditorium.

After a few United Way videos are shown, the United Way will announce one business and one person as recipients of the annual Macsherry Family Community Spirit Awards.

Attendees are encouraged to bring a nonperishable food item for the United Way’s annual Jefferson County food drive, which will take place the following day in the parking lot of St. Anthony’s Church, at the corner of Arsenal Street and Bellew Avenue.

Kickoff tickets are $10 each, and may be purchased by Tuesday by calling the United Way at 788-5631.

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