UPDATED 10:50 p.m. Thursday
CHAMPAIGN — The United Way of Champaign County will launch its new annual fundraising campaign next week with a $3.3 million goal.
"That's our lucky number," says Tony Clements, the United Way's interim CEO and last year's fundraising campaign co-chairman.
Not only was $3.3 million the United Way's 2011 fund-raising goal, it was an amount that was surpassed in community giving to United Way by 4 percent last year.
Total giving to last year's campaign last year wound up at $3,473,893.
The United Way is excited to set $3.3 million as a goal again, Clements said, "and see how much better we can do."
"We hope to do more, sure," he said. "But that's because our community has always stepped forward and taken us to higher levels."
Contributions to the local United Way help support 37 human service agencies that administer 67 programs serving people in need.
The United Way campaign kicks off officially next Wednesday with United Way's Stuff the Bus campaign. Stuff the bus collection boxes will be placed throughout Champaign County to hold donations of items and supplies needed by United Way agencies.
Jennifer Vallowe, co-chair of this year's campaign, said the decision to set a $3.3 million goal amount Thursday means the United Way is on its way to meeting the needs of Champaign County. The campaign draws strong support, she said, and the $3.3 goal is "challenging, but I think it's also very attainable."
"But really the bottom line is, we live in a community that really likes to give back."
Information went out this past week to get employers started on their fundraising campaigns, and employees at those workplaces should be seeing it over the next few weeks, Vallowe said.
Clements said the United Way sets its fundraising goal in cooperation with about 240 local business partners, among them the University of Illinois and Carle, that conduct fundraising campaigns.
Some of the items (new and unopened, the United Way requests) sought in collection boxes include children's picture books, crayons, lined paper, washable markers, safety scissors, rulers, baby wipes, diapers sizes 3 and up, shampoo, conditioner, soap, toothpaste, toothbrushes, MTD bus tokens, copy paper, flash drives, calculators, paper towels, Kleenex, toilet paper, socks and underwear.