Until the last couple of years, United Way had met and exceeded each of its goals for 40 straight years, and had been shattering records in recent years as the goals hit and surpassed $1 million.
"We're just being careful this year, a little more conservative," said United Way Executive Director Janie Pass. "We want to make sure we are able to make our commitments to the 27 social-service agencies in Boyle and neighboring counties that we support. After all, the financial well-being of these agencies is why we exist, what we're about.
"When the economy rebounds, in the near future we hope, we will be right back where we were a couple of years ago and that's setting and meeting and hopefully exceeding goals of over a million dollars," said Pass.
While the goal is less than it has been in recent years, the spirit of the volunteers is just as high, Pass said.
"We have 340 people registered to help with our work projects (today) but, if it's anything like last year, we could very well have 500 or more actually show up," she said.
"They're working at 42 sites around the area, including the agencies we support and other community facilities," Pass said. "The sites range from schools like Crab Orchard Elementary to public housing complexes like the Stanford Housing Authority to social-service agencies like the Salvation Army.
"The enthusiasm and dedication of the people of this community and communities in other parts of the area where there are United Way-supported agencies are something to behold," she said. "Obviously, our mission is to attract donations, but it's about more than money. The fuel that runs our engine is the people of this community."
People like Randy Dean of Danville. Dean, an employee of Texas Eastern Transmission Co., was among more than a dozen volunteers doing gardening work this morning outside the Salvation Army office and gymnasium building and Salvation Army Thrift Store on South Fourth Street. They were planting shrubs and flowers.
"This is nothing new for me," said Dean. "My wife and I just moved into a new house and we've been doing a lot of landscaping. Besides, my wife has me doing chores in the yard every weekend anyway."
Dean said this is the fifth year he has served as a "Day of Caring" volunteer, and he always gets something out of the experience.
"You not only get a good feeling from helping out a little bit, but if the site you're working at actually gets support from the United Way, like the Salvation Army, you also get to see the donated dollars at work," he said. "We learn something about what the agencies that get United Way support do, and you learn how valuable their work is to the community and how worth it it is to help support them, whether you're planting a bush or donating a dollar."