United Fund nearing campaign completion

Jessica Johnson Staff reporter

January 4, 2014

United Fund of Surry County kicked off it’s “Care. Give. Help.” fund drive on Aug. 17 with a goal of $515,000, and with almost 75 percent of that goal reached, board members and campaign supporters rallied together on Friday to encourage donations in the final run toward the goal —a goal that will provide direct positive impact for those in need in Surry County.

Beth Pequeno, executive director for United Fund of Surry, described member agencies need for support as great, especially with the poverty rate in Surry County close to 20 percent.

With 26 local member agencies receiving support — in the areas of crisis and emergency care; food, utility, and medial assistance; shelter; and counseling services — United Fund of Surry offers those who donate the reassurance that all money received goes directly to help those in need in Surry County, Pequeno assured.

Cold weather, warm hearts

Gathered around the United Fund Campaign sign at Reeves Community Center on Friday morning, braving frigid 24-degree weather, were Ron Sutphin of McDonald’s USA LLC, campaign chairman; Emma Jean Tucker, president; Chris Bunting of Hanes Strand & Co., treasurer; Laura Brim of Renfro; Tina Johnson with SB&T Insurance; Pequeno; and a group of Renfro employees — with a warm message of hope for reaching the goal by the end of the campaign in January.

Sutphin said donations were “slightly ahead” of last year’s campaign at this time, and said he was encouraged that this year’s campaign goal would be met.

For those who wish to give, many businesses offer payroll deduction options, or donations can be made online at

Community and corporate leaders set example

“It all starts with leadership,” Sutphin said of businesses who allow employees to donate to United Fund through payroll deductions. “We are lucky to have leaders in this community who recognize the great need in Surry County. All of our successful campaigns are headed up by strong corporate leadership, and once you have that it leads to a trickle-down effect. People always want to be part of something that matters and has an impact here in our local area, and our business leaders do a great job of emphasizing that importance.”

This year, Renfro Corp. continued to be the No. 1 source of large campaign donations.

Renfro Vice President of Human Resources Dave Green said they are nearing the completion of the campaign with pledges from employees totaling $44,690 and an additional pledge from the company of $36,000 — for a total of $80,690. “We are very proud of that number which I believe is an all-time record for us. I am very happy that our employees have a passion for helping their community,” Green said.

Renfro’s approach to generate excitement for campaign donations included offering drawings of big ticket incentives like an iPad, as well as rewards that support local businesses such as Trio Restaurant and retail partners such as Walmart, Target, and Kmart.

Sutphin said the second highest donation level came from Surry County residents who work outside the county and designate their payroll deductions through their employers to go “back home to Surry, where local lives are directly impacted in a positive way.”

“Another important fact to note is that the biggest segment of donations this year were between $25 and $100. Many have a perception that you have to give hundreds or thousands to make an impact, but anyone can be a part of this, even for as little as $1 per week,” Sutphin said.

Pledges can be made in the form of a lump sum payment, or deducted from an employee’s paychecks throughout the year for participating businesses, which Pequeno said is an easy option for many — “It kind of eliminates the sticker shock of having a large chunk of their pay deducted.”

Pequeno added that she felt there was an increase in participation this year at the $50 pledge level, in part due to the added bonus of an entry to win one of two 50-inch televisions, donated by Brannock and Hiatt Furniture, Appliances, and Electronics.

Both Sutphin and Pequeno said many of those who donate are people who have used United Fund member agencies and want to support in any way they can, as a way to give back in thanks for help received. “Those are the stories we love to hear,” Sutphin said. “That’s what makes us want to help, and that is what leads us to serve on the board and keep doing this. We are proud that all money stays here locally.”

Help for local agencies and organizations

Pequeno assured that each of the 26 member agencies are reviewed each year by the board members, “to ensure donations are being used in the best way possible.”

This year, donors are able to designate their donation to go to a specific member agency, or they may be earmarked for one area, such as crisis, seniors, family and youth, or medical.

Crisis member agencies include:

- American Red Cross

- The Salvation Army

- Shepherd’s House

- Yokefellow Ministries

- Surry Domestic Violence

Senior member agencies include:

- Surry Senior Center/Pilot Mountain Senior Center

- Meals on Wheels

- Retired Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP)

- Webb Southern Carroll Community Center

Medical member agencies include:

- Surry Medical Ministries

- Mountain Valley Hospice

- Rescue Squads, including Ararat Rescue Squad, Dobson Rescue Squad, Blue Ridge Rescue Squad, Mount Airy Rescue Squad, and Pilot Mountain Rescue Squad

Family and Youth member agencies include:

- Armfield School Age Care

- Charles Stone Library Reading Program

- Surry Friends of Youth

- Reeves Community Center Foundation

- The Gallery Group

- Surry Arts Council Special Needs Program

- Surry SCAN

- Children’s Center of Surry

- Boy Scouts of America, Old Hickory Council

- Girl Scouts, Carolina Peaks to Piedmont

Full descriptions of the 26 United Fund of Surry member agencies is available online at Donations may be made through the website or mailed to PO Box 409; Mount Airy, NC 27030. Call 789-3087 for more information.

Reach Jessica Johnson at or 719-1933.