The United Way of West Ellis County recently set its 2008 campaign goal and the number is high - $500,000.

With the campaign set to kick off Aug. 30, board members are actively gearing up for this year’s campaign with new contacts being made daily to garner additional support, according to campaign chairman Nicole Mansell.

The 2006 campaign was met with success, with its goal of $375,000 surpassed by more than $10,000. This year, Mansell said the group hopes to significantly increase the number of contributions made to the United Way.

“This year, we will kick off the most aggressive campaign in the history of the United Way of West Ellis County,” she said. “The 2008 campaign goal of $500,000 is quite significant and I truly believe that we will reach this goal through hard work, perseverance and communication.

“Communication is definitely key,” she said.

For those who wonder what the United Way of West Ellis County does, Mansell notes that this past year, through the organization’s more than 25 local affiliate agencies, “children had a safe place to learn and play, area seniors had hot meals and a place to gather, women living in abusive homes had a shelter to turn to, and those whose lives have been harmed by drug and alcohol abuse were provided resources to end such self-abuse.”

Some of the nonprofit organizations supported by the United Way of West Ellis County include Avalon Summer Recreation, Manna House, Meals-on-Wheels, the Gingerbread House children’s advocacy center, Daniel’s Den and the Waxahachie, Milford and Midlothian senior citizens centers. The United Way of West Ellis County serves the communities of Avalon, Milford, Maypearl, Midlothian, Red Oak, Waxahachie and others.

Mansell points out a number of ways people can help the United Way. Individuals can make a one-time donation and business and organizations can conduct work place campaigns and employees can participate in their company’s payroll deduction plan. Those businesses and organizations that are interested in conducting a workplace campaign are encouraged to contact the United Way office.

“We are pleased with the direction we are taking during the 2008 campaign,” said Dr. Harold Nolte, chairman of the United Way of West Ellis County. Our goal is to make a real difference in our community by providing services to those who need it most.”

The annual community wide kick-off for the campaign will be hosted by the Waxahachie Rotary Club at 11:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 30, at the Waxahachie Civic Center.

“Everyone is welcome to attend the kick-off event,” Mansell said. “We would love to pack the civic center out. In fact, the more people who attend the event the better. I believe that collectively, we all can make a difference and it begins on Aug. 30.”

For more information on the United Way of West Ellis County or to make a donation, contact executive director Richard Norman at (972) 723-9280.