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Saturday August 19th, 2017 3:30AM

United Way celebrates fundraising success and expanded child book program

By Marc Eggers Anchor / Reporter

GAINESVILLE – The annual United Way of Hall County Volunteer Recognition and Celebration was held at the Gainesville Civic Center Thursday morning. 

2016 Campaign Chairwoman Katie Dubnik announced that a new milestone had been reached for donations and pledges.  Dubnik told the approximately 125 guests seated in the grand ballroom, “It is because of each and every one of you in this room today that I get to share good news: our 2016 annual campaign has raised nearly $1.6-million to be re-invested into the community.”

Dubnik’s term as Campaign Chair is ending; she will be replaced by Tommy Howard.  “I know he is already hard at work setting the stage for next year and a successful campaign,” Dubnik said.

United Way staff member Ruth Demby followed Dubnik and announced that the agency’s successful program “Read. Learn. Succeed.” is being expanded.

“Read. Learn. Succeed.” is United Way of Hall County’s effort to provide all babies born at the Northeast Georgia Medical Center a free book, a book intended to encourage its parents to spend 15-minutes each day reading to their newborns.

According to Demby, studies show that reading aloud to your infant is the single most important thing a parent or caregiver can do to prepare the child for lifelong success.

“We are so excited about the hospital’s book, but then to continue that on,” Demby said enthusiastically.

“Six months later, when they (newborn) go to The Longstreet Pediatric Clinic, they will be receiving an age-appropriate book,” Demby explained.  “Longstreet Clinic is taking part in ‘Reach Out and Read’”.

Reach Out and Read will continue with each well-baby visit, according to Demby.  “By the age of five children will have a library of ten books.”

United Way of Hall County President and CEO Joy Griffin said that 10,000 books per year would be made available for distribution, beginning May 1st, at The Longstreet Clinic Center for Pediatrics.  Griffin said the expanded book program would be funded by United Way of Hall County.

Honored at the breakfast event for company sponsored campaign donations were:

  1. Publix Super Markets - $322,263

  2. Northeast Georgia Health Systems - $92,836

  3. Fieldale Farms - $88,025

  4. Conditioned Air Systems - $57,461

  5. Hall County Schools - $53,200

  6. Wilheit Packaging - $50,199

  7. UPS - $42,252

  8. Gainesville City Schools - $32,684

  9. United Community Bank - $23,851

  10. Whelchel, Dunlap, Jarrard & Walker - $23,750

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