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Nutrien’s campaign team has raised $114,564 to help start the United Way fundraising campaign.

LAKE CITY — Are you ready for some fundraising?

With cheerleaders in tow, the United Way of Suwannee Valley celebrated its fundraising campaign kickoff event in style Aug. 20 at the Florida Gateway College’s Howard Center.

The 2019-20 community fundraising kickoff event featured 128 guests in attendance and Lori Simpson, the general campaign chair, announced the goal for the year is to raise $500,000. Simpson said the campaign team’s goal is to help the United Way make the “best possible impact on the wellbeing of our community.”

Joining Simpson on the campaign team are Kecia Robinson, Suwannee County campaign chair; Chrissy Cribbs, Hamilton County campaign chair; Terri Brown, Loaned Executives chair; Noah Walker, Resource Development chair; and Dave Cobb, Challengers’ Club chair.

Also during the event, Don Fenneman, with Nutrien, announced the Nutrien United Way team had raised $114,564 to kick start the year’s campaign. Fenneman also recognized Katie Taylor, the longtime Nutrien campaign coordinator, who is retiring at the end of August.

“Our campaign would not be nearly as successful without Katie’s help,” Fenneman said.

Simpson said that with Nutrien’s efforts and the Pacesetter campaign results, the total raised to date was $184,196, a 22 percent increase over last year’s Pacesetter results.

Janie Richardson reminded those in attendance of the ReadingPals early childhood learning initiative that includes participation from the Columbia, Hamilton and Suwannee county school districts.

Through ReadingPals, volunteers spend one hour a week with public school kindergarten students that are beginning their educational careers with a deficit.

Anyone that is interested in becoming a ReadingPals volunteer should contact ReadingPals coordinator Kara Allen.

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The Women United of Suwannee Valley’s signature cause is early childhood literacy.

The Women United of Suwannee Valley is the United Way’s women’s leadership council and its signature cause is early childhood literacy.

The group supports ReadingPals by encouraging volunteers and planning a mid-year learning opportunity for the initiative and the end-of-year celebration.

“Women are an undeniable force when it comes to investing in their communities,” Richardson said.

Women that contribute at the Challengers’ Club level are eligible to join.

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