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United Way sets another modest campaign goal

Hoping to keep its three-year winning streak going, Charlotte’s United Way again set a conservative campaign goal, looking to raise just $200,000 more than in 2013.

The goal, $21.6 million, is just one percent more than last year.

Chiquita kicked off the campaign announcement Tuesday by contributing $150,000 from the Chiquita Classic, $50,000 more than the golf tournament contributed last year to the kick off.

Ed Lonergan, CEO of Chiquita, said the increase underscores his company’s belief in “United Way’s work to address homelessness, graduation rates and other critical issues.”

The Chiquita Classic will be held at River Run Country Club in Davidson Thursday through Sunday. This is the second year the tournament made United Way its lead beneficiary, offering 100 percent of ticket sales to United Way or other nonprofits.

The 2014 campaign also got early help from a donation of $20,549, given by a Korean church, Lake Norman Presbyterian Church, that closed its doors earlier this year, officials said.

“Church leaders asked the congregation to make one last significant donation, and they chose United Way,” said William Norton, spokesman for United Way.

“We had no idea they had chosen to do this. Out of the blue, Grandmaster Ju Hun Kim, representing the church, walked into United Way’s uptown headquarters...and gave us a check for $20,549.24.”

This year marks the final campaign for current United Way Executive Director Jane McIntyre, who announced she will retire once the campaign is finished. It typically concludes around Valentine’s Day.

The 2014 campaign raised $17 million for the agency’s 82 partner charities, including an extra $500,000 that was taken from United Way’s reserve fund. The money from reserves allowed the agency to increase grants to its partner charities for the first time since 2010.

Since 2009 – when the recession kicked in – United Way has set only modest goals for its campaigns and has managed to meet those goals in four of five years. It fell short in 2010.

In 2013, the agency gave out $3 million more than it did in 2009, when the campaign suffered a steep drop due to the recession.