The United Way of the Coalfield is thinking bigger. Almost 48% bigger.

Campaign Chair Ann Oldham announced Thursday that the goal of this year's fundraising campaign is $325,000. That would be a leap forward from last year, when $220,000 was raised.

"That doesn't sound like much money," Oldham told a leadership breakfast. "The future is what we're talking about."

She said several businesses in Hopkins and Muhlenberg counties already have committed $11,800 to set a foundation. The rest will come through donations, primarily in workplaces.

A dozen different nonprofit organizations in the two counties benefit from United Way of the Coalfield. They include faith-based organizations such as the

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Salvation Army as well as the Hope2All regional food bank and Sanctuary Inc. for sexual assault survivors.

"Not a single one of them steps on the other," said Chad Hart, chief executive officer of the Hopkins County YMCA. "We're serving different groups of people. We're tackling social issues at the ground floor level."

"All of these agencies... they are the best of us," United Way Board Chair Heath Ferguson said in concluding remarks. "They are our outstretched hand."

Oldham said there are many options for donating to the United Way. A"fair share" contribution is one percent of a paycheck. But employees also can donate as little as one dollar per paycheck.

"Each one of us, doing a little part, makes it happen," Oldham said.

Donations also can be made online at UnitedWayOfTheCoalfield.org.

Oldham moves into the campaign chair's role this year after serving as United Way executive director for more than 15 years, beginning in 1986. Don Howerton became executive director in March, after working at the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce Workforce Center.

The Messenger's publisher, Rick Welch, serves on the United Way Board of Directors.

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