BRADENTON -- Last September Jerry Koontz and a song-and-dance troupe performed at United Way of Manatee County’s 2010-2011 fundraising campaign kickoff at Renaissance on 9th.
Too bad there wasn’t a return engagement at Wednesday’s campaign awards celebration at the Manatee Central Banquet Hall.
The United Way executive director felt like singing.
That’s because the campaign will surpass its $2.7 million goal, an accomplishment in tough times.
“We’re very fortunate, given the economy,” Koontz said. “Our largest campaign donors came through. A lot of it is leadership, setting the example.”
Publix ($683,829) and Tropicana ($375,693) were 1-2 overall and exceeded their totals from a year ago, he said.
“It’s the loyalty of our customers and our associates understanding the importance of giving back to the community, being involved as responsible citizens,” said Tim Henning, Publix district manager and United Way board member.
Helen Keyes, Tropicana’s human resources director, said the same understanding exists throughout that Bradenton fixture.
“Every employee in our organization is touched by United Way and has family members who utilize their services at some time during the year,” she said. “It’s important not just from a business perspective, but a people perspective.”
Eugene Beckstein chairs the United Way’s Tocqueville Society, whose members give at least $10,000 annually.
This year they donated more than $470,000.
“If we didn’t have that group with the money to give, it’d be tough to make the budget,” he said. “
Since the downturn we’ve been able to raise a little bit more money than the year before. That’s remarkable.
“A lot of United Ways in other places can’t raise enough to keep the doors open.”
Not United Way of Manatee County.
“Surprised we exceeded last year? Yes,” said board member Cindy Denison, a Gateway Bank vice-president. “Our needs are growing, so we’re elated.”
Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055.