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United Way close to goal for fundraising

Before its campaign closes for the year, United Way is making a final plea for donations.

Short of its $185,000 goal by about $8,000, First Vice President Ben Shannon said he's confident Jamestown can make the cut by the campaign's Feb. 1 closing date.

United Way is a national organization that serves local communities. Created by a rabbi, a priest and two ministers in 1887, the goal of the first United Way campaign was to support 10 health and welfare agencies in Denver, Colo. It raised $21,700 that year, according to United Way's website.

Today, United Way chapters are established in communities throughout the country and the money raised benefits those specific communities, Shannon said. Of the money raised in this area, 99 percent stays here, Shannon said.

"Any money donated in Jamestown stays in Jamestown," he said.

The Jamestown United Way serves 22 agencies. Some of them include Camp Rokiwan, James River Family YMCA, Northern Lights Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts - Dakota Horizons.

At the Arts Center in Jamestown, the $5,000 or so it receives every year benefits the center's Arts After School program.

Arts After School offers third- through eighth-graders lessons in various artistic mediums like ceramics, weaving and creative writing, said Taylor Barnes, director of the Arts Center. The program gives students a chance to develop social- and creative-thinking skills. It also teaches self-expression, she said.

The funding Arts After School receives from United Way is important because the program is supported mostly through grants and some fees to families. Scholarships are also available for families who can't afford it, Barnes said.

Funding to all agencies was reduced in recent years as the economy tightened the belts of individual and corporate donors.

United Way in Jamestown used to set a goal of $200,000 and typically came within a few percentage points of making it. But after the campaign raised only $180,000 in its 2009 campaign, organizers reassessed the goal.

Those reductions cut into the amount of money available to the 22 agencies, Shannon said.

So to help the campaign this year, United Way in Jamestown is asking residents to open their wallets before Feb. 1. To make a donation, call 952-UWAY or mail a check to PO BOX 85, Jamestown, ND 58402-0085.

Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by e-mail at