CULLMAN – United Way of Cullman County has met its annual fundraising goal – a feat that has not been seen in at least six years. Executive Director Sammie Danford has been working for two years to breathe life back into the foundation and is succeeding. The organization managed to raise over $400,000 to assist the many local charities and services they are currently partnered with.
“We pro-rated our agencies by 35 percent last year in August, which was huge,” said Sammie Danford, “and then we’ve worked hard and have done a lot of campaigning.”
United Way of Cullman County frequently campaigns around the community by asking employers to allow them time to speak to their employees.
“We go up and tell them our story and let them know who we fund, the agencies that we help, and what our agencies do,” explains Danford.
“We’re just trying to educate the public of what our value is to the community.”
That value is certainly visible when taking a look at the agencies that United Way supports: Cullman Caring for Kids, Hospice of Cullman County, Cullman County Center for the Developmentally Disabled, Victim Services of Cullman, and Girl Scouts are just a few of the agencies that United Way has been giving monthly assistance to in the past year.
“In a quarter, our agencies will touch between 18-20,000 people,” Danford said.
United Way of Cullman County has spent time doing different fundraisers to help achieve their goal.
Last year’s Girlfriend Gala was a hit with the community, pulling in roughly $13,000. This year’s event is set for October 2 and is expected to raise even more.
The organization has also opted to do a couple of fundraisers in local schools. The city schools are participating in Change for Change, a program that will provide a jar to classrooms with the intention of allowing students to fill that jar with change they choose to donate.
In September, United Way will work with both the city and county schools to implement their hat day fundraiser. “We’ve got stickers that we have made up that say ‘Day of Caring, United Way’. We give them to the teachers and the students can pay $1 to buy a sticker to wear a hat.” Last year’s hat day managed to raise over $2,000.
Meeting their fundraising goal has been a struggle in the past few years due to a few different factors.
“The economy nosedived in ’08, which has a huge effect on our donations,” said Danford. “Then the tornados came in 2011. People didn’t have money to give to us; they were rebuilding.”
Despite the difficulties United Way of Cullman County has experienced in the recent past, this year marked a positive turn around for the organization. Where as United Way normally gives 12 checks – one for each month – to each of the agencies it supports, this year the organization was able to approve an extra thirteenth check for each agency.
The next fundraising goal has been raised to $425,000 and Sammie Danford is ready to step up to the challenge. “I love this job. I love United Way and I believe in our agencies and what they do. I’m just grateful to be here and know that this is going to be another good year,” stated Danford.