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Volunteers deploy for United Way's Day of Caring

Kimberly Clark employees Robert Hoke, Ricky Parker and Patrick Gorton hold signs that represent characteristics they'd like to see in their community. Kimberly Clark employees Robert Hoke, Ricky Parker and Patrick Gorton hold signs that represent characteristics they'd like to see in their community.

Four-hundred volunteers fanned out across the county today to paint, hammer, mentor children and even pick apples as the United Way of Henderson County kicked off its annual fundraising campaign and Day of Caring.

Meeting for a rally along with breakfast of Joey's bagels, orange juice and coffee, men and women from banks, factories, hospitals, schools and other employers, all wearing matching orange shirts of this year's campaign, set out for their assignments at 8:30 a.m.
"Some of you will be mentoring children, showing them that an adult cares about them and what's going on in their lives," said Blue Ridge Community College president Molly Parkhill. Teams will build ramps for the handicapped. Others will paint a Girl Scout hut at Boyd Park. "And more than a hundred of you will be harvesting apples to feed those who struggle to put food on their table."
Campaign chairman Greg Burnett, the area executive for First Citizens Bank and this year's campaign chairman, said people always ask what the goal is.
"We actually have three goals," he said: to help ensure that Henderson County can provide high quality education, to help make sure Henderson County "provides families opportunities for a stable income and economic self-sufficiency" and to help make sure that Henderson County people are healthy.
United Way funding goes to organizations and agencies that work in all those areas. "The United Way brings together people who need service and people who provide service," Hendersonville City Manager Bo Ferguson said in a short video that summed up the agency's work.
Burnett said he was going to violate the usual rules of a large gathering that's supposed to pay attention to a speaker. Take out your cellphones, he urged the crowd of volunteers, and send a message through social media — Facebook, Twitter or text — that says, "I'm about to improve my community today through United Way's kickoff and Day of Caring."
The kickoff breakfast was sponsored by Pardee Hospital. Pacesetter Mountain 1st Bank presented a check for $26,000 from its pre-kickoff campaign, which achieved a 99 percent participation rate among employees and beat its donation total from last year by 60 percent.
The big surprise was a red 2013 Dodge Dart that a United Way donor can win, presented by Egolf Motors. Contact the United Way for details on how to win it.