Think of it as the kick-off before the “kick-off.”

Representatives from several businesses and organizations were on hand Tuesday to learn how to become United Way coordinators for this year’s campaign.

The official “kick off” of the 2007 United Way of West Ellis County campaign will take place Aug. 30 at the Waxahachie Civic Center during the joint meeting of the Rotary and Lions clubs.

This year’s campaign goal is $500,000, which will provide funding for 26 area agencies that provide services to residents in western Ellis County.

The training provided during Tuesday’s campaign coordinator’s luncheon will help those individuals create United Way campaigns within their company or organization.

“I want to thank you all for being here today. As you all know, our campaign goal is $500,000 — which is the most aggressive goal the United Way of West Ellis County has ever set,” said Nicole Mansell, this year’s campaign chairman.

Mansell announced the theme for this year’s United Way campaign, “Together We Can Give Wings to Angels.”

“We all have our gifts and we all can fly. Some, however, need more help getting off the ground,” she explained. “That’s what the United Way is all about. When we work together, we all can fly. That’s why what you do as campaign coordinators is so important.”

Included in a workbook presented to each coordinator, Mansell talked about the various activities each business and organization could take part in to help raise awareness and encourage member donations.

She also covered the “Top 5” reasons for donating to the United Way.

United Way helps people — United Way funded programs help children, adults and families. Funded programs provide a wide range of services — from affordable after school care to meals for the elderly. United Way is local — The funds raised in West Ellis County help people right here in our community. United Way of West Ellis County assists 26 local agencies through a volunteer-driven fund distribution process. United Way is accountable — Local volunteers serve as board members and make the decision as to which programs receive funds to help ensure that the maximum amount of money is spent on the critical needs of West Ellis County. The United Way of West Ellis County must meet strict standards of accountability set forth by United Way of America. United Way is efficient — United Way of West Ellis County operates with a small full-time staff comprising of one executive director and one part-time secretary in order to keep overhead costs low. Less than 15 percent of every dollar raised goes towards administrative costs, meaning more of your dollar can go directly to programs and services. United Way makes it easy to give back — The convenience of payroll deduction makes it easy for employees in the workplace to “give back” to their community through the United Way of West Ellis County. It is the most efficient, effective way to make a positive impact on our community.

“Take a look at the organizations that receive United Way funding in our communities,” Mansell said. “These are the organizations that touch lives every day.”

Area organizations receiving United Way of West Elllis County funding in the coming year include:

American Red Cross, Assistance Dogs, Avalon Independent School District, Boy Scouts of America, CASA, Common Ground Ministries, Daniel’s Den Ministries, Ellis County 4-H, Ellis County Foster Parents, Gingerbread House, Manna House, Meals-on-Wheels, Midlothian Senior Citizens Center, Milford Senior Citizens Center, Milford Summer Recreation Program, North Ellis County Outreach, Reading & Radio Resource, REACH Counsel Prevention, Our Children House, Salvation Army of Waxahachie, Tejas Girl Scout Council, Waxahachie Boys & Girls Club, Waxahachie CARE, Waxahachie Senior Citizens Center, WISD Lighthouse for Learning, WISD Summer Recreation, Waxahachie YMCA.

Coordinators were also introduced to this year’s division leaders, who will work with individual coordinators in helping facilitate campaigns within those divisions. This year’s division leaders are:

Industry — Sandi Grant Financial sector — Jean Woods Clubs and organizations — Gary Stanford Retail and professional — Dusty Autry Education — Dr. Harold Nolte Government — Ron Langenheder

Mansell stressed that there is “lots of opportunity” for anyone wanting to coordinate a United Way campaign for their company, church or organization.

“Absolutely, we’re going to be working hard through November to reach every business and organization we can — so we need the help,” she said.

For more information on becoming a campaign coordinator, contact United Way of West Ellis County Executive Director Richard Norman at (972) 723-9280.

Additionally, the Milford Senior Citizens Center has again donated a hand-sewn quilt to be raffled off as a fund-raiser. During the campaign kick-off on Aug. 30, tickets will be sold for $1 each.

The Aug. 30 kick-off luncheon will begin at 11:30 a.m. and is open to the public. The price of lunch is $12.

E-mail Neal at neal.white@waxahachiedailylight.com