UF gives back with campaign

Published: Wednesday, January 15, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 14, 2003 at 9:34 p.m.
Employees of the University of Florida once again helped UF flex its muscles as the most important fixture in the Alachua County area.
During its community fund-raising campaign for 2002, UF employees pledged to contribute $834,000 to area charities, Jay Stein, chairman of the fund-raising campaign, said Tuesday.
"It's the highest we've ever raised," said Stein, also dean of UF's College of Design, Construction and Planning.
"We didn't hit the goal (of $855,000), but we surpassed last year (by $12,000)."
Stein said he recognizes that the funds are "just a drop in the bucket relative to the needs of the community." But he added that the campaign's year-to-year gain shows that many UF employees remain committed to supporting community charity despite an economic downturn with budget cuts and "low salary increases" at UF.
UF's employee campaign raises the money for charities that meet the criteria of being nonprofit agencies that strive "to improve the quality of life" in the communities that surround UF, Stein said.
The employees themselves picked which charity they wanted their donations to go toward.
Of the 70 organizations on the list, 30 are United Way-affiliated, such as the St. Francis House and Alachua County Healthy Kids, Stein said.
About 4,200 out of UF's more than 12,000 employees contributed, campaign coordinator Leila Cantara said.
She said most of those people agreed to do so through a biweekly payroll deduction rather than writing a check.
"Even if it's just $2 a pay period, . . . it's an opportunity to feel good about being charitable," she said.
To raise the money, nearly 300 of UF's employees - including teaching staff, administrators and support staff - volunteered to distribute pledge cards and inform their co-workers about how giving helps, Cantara said.
United Way of Alachua County spokesman Nathan Trenteseaux said UF consistently places as No. 1 among about 200 participating fund-raising organizations in terms of total dollars raised, ahead of Shands HealthCare and Publix.
"If we didn't have the University of Florida here, we would be at such a loss in the funding of our local agencies," he said.
UF's employee fund-raising campaign began in 1993, collecting about $440,000 in the first year.

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