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United Way at 20 percent of campaign goal

With six weeks left in its campaign, United Way officials say they've raised about 20 percent of their goal -- meaning the group expects to raise about $160,000 by Dec. 31.

United Way held the kickoff for its 2009 campaign called "Take a Stand, Lend a Hand" in September. Its goal this year is $205,000 -- a $5,000 increase from its $200,000 goal in 2008. So far, it's gathered about $40,000 through donations and fundraising efforts in the area, said Karla Bachmeier, executive director.

The campaign continues through December.

"Jamestown has always done really great for United Way," Bachmeier said.

United Way distributes the money to 21 organizations and nonprofits in the area. The amount of funds an organization receives is based on several factors including what the organization requests and how many people the organization serves.

The Arts Center in Jamestown is one of the organizations United Way helps.

The center uses the money to help fund Arts After School -- a program that provides structured and supervised activities after each school day throughout the year.

Arts Center Director Taylor Barnes said the students in the program enhance their imaginative and artistic skills. In planning curriculum, the Arts Center follows state standards for art education.

"We really want it to be content-based, so it's really more than babysitting," she said.

Arts After School begins when classes are dismissed and lasts until about 5 p.m. each day. In 10 years, the program's theme has varied from creative writing, to ceramics to dance. It serves 15-25 third- through fifth-graders each year. The families pay a fee but some scholarships are available, she said.

United Way funds about one-sixth of the program, Barnes said. That's helpful because with so many nonprofits and other organizations in need, competing for fundraising dollars can be difficult, she said.

"It's a greater challenge every year," she said.

Funding local programs like Arts After School is why Karli Skjeret, first vice-president for the Jamestown United Way board of directors, is involved.

Ninety-nine percent of the funds raised remain in the Jamestown area, she said. So along with The Arts Center, other local entities like Jamestown Youth, James River Transit and the James River YMCA also benefit.

"It's just good to know that we're helping our neighbors," she said.

The United Way campaign continues through December. Board members are available to make presentations to businesses and other organizations, Skjeret said. For more information, or to make a contribution, contact 952-UWAY, or 952-8929.

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