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JANESVILLEThe local United Way hopes more residents will be willing to contribute to its annual campaign, or that past contributors will pledge more this year.

United Way Blackhawk Region announced that its fundraising goal is $2.5 million, up from $2.4 million last year.

The organization began its 2017 campaign Wednesday, when it also announced last year’s total exceeded the goal by $40,000.

The organization had not exceeded its goal since 2008, according to Gazette records.

“We are hopeful that exceeding the goal last year is an invitation that our community has the potential to raise more dollars,” said Mary Fanning-Penny, president and CEO.

She added that new employers have opened for business recently, and many companies and organizations “haven’t met full capacity yet.”

“We’re hoping it’s a turning point, that we are going to continue to see growth in campaign dollars,” she said.

The local United Way is the result of a 2012 merger of the United Way of North Rock County and the Stateline United Way. It comprises all of Rock County and parts of northern Winnebago County in Illinois, including South Beloit, Roscoe and Rockton.

Last year, more than 8,000 people pledged to the United Way, Fanning-Penny said.

The campaign continues into next spring, with a preliminary announcement of money raised to occur in late March, Fanning-Penny said. Many companies, however, prefer to wrap up their campaigns by Dec. 31, she said.

Eight companies have already completed their campaigns, with $180,000 pledged, but many more are just starting their campaigns, Fanning-Penny said.

Fanning-Penny urged people to get involved in the campaign, but if they can’t do so through their employers, they can do so online at

United Way Blackhawk Region launched its annual community campaign Wednesday at a breakfast at the Eclipse Center in Beloit. More than 400 supporters were expected to attend.

Wednesday is also the Day of Caring, when 895 volunteers and 160 corporate teams from 43 companies were scheduled to complete 100 projects at 42 local nonprofits.

Those numbers exceed last year’s, according to a news release.

Each year, the organization picks high-profile “champions” who lend their visibility and leadership to inspire people to contribute, Fanning-Penny said. This year’s champions are Beloit City Manager Lori Curtis Luther, Janesville City Manager Mark Freitag, Milton City Administrator Al Hulick and South Beloit Mayor Ted Rehl.

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