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More than 700 attended the 55th annual United Way kick-off breakfast Tuesday.
More than 700 attended the 55th annual United Way kick-off breakfast Tuesday. / Amy Bennett Williams/The News-Press

Causes

Southwest Floridians care. They give back to their community. For that reason The News-Press Media Group will launch a new section and website called “Causes.”

It will focus on neighbors helping neighbors. You will find an agency that you can donate your time or money, upcoming charity events and the stories of people who are making a difference every day.

It all starts Nov. 12 in “Causes.”
For more information, contact Assistant Managing Editor Wendy Fullerton Powell at wfullerton@news-press.com or call her at 335-0388.

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Publix got a standing ovation from a standing-room-only crowd of more than 700 at Tuesday’s kickoff breakfast for United Way of Lee, Hendry and Glades counties’ 2012-13 fundraising campaign.

The Florida supermarket giant’s $1.3 million contribution broke its own record and helped push the early donation total to $4.6 million — 58 percent of the campaign goal.

Not bad for opening day said the Cliff Smith, the nonprofit’s president.

“We are just awed by the generosity of this community and the Pacesetter companies,” Smith said. He was referring to area businesses whose employees pledge and donate before the annual drive’s official start.

To sweeten the deal, some of the businesses offer prizes and incentives to employees who give more than $240. One of the morning’s highlights was a drawing for a two-year lease on a sleek 2013 obsidian Lexis donated by the John Scanlon Auto Group which went to Ina Larissa Boro, who works at the Grand Bay Plaza Publix in south Lee County

The overall goal for the 55th season is $8,060,193, but campaign chairman Rob Wilson told the enthusiastic crowd that considering that the nonprofit has raised more than $100 million since 1957, he’s confident the community will hit that target.

All locally raised money stays here and goes to work helping 70 area human service groups including the Children’s Advocacy Center, Harry Chapin Food Bank, Alvin A. Dubin Alzheimer’s Resource Center, Boys and Girls Clubs and the Red Cross. The United Way also promotes communication and collaboration among the agencies to maximize their reach.

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