By Brittany Davenport

A blitz is underway at Eastern, but it doesn’t involve football. Eastern’s United Way Campaign blitz kicked off Oct. 1 and will run through Friday, Nov. 16. The goal is to reach $35,000 with all the money aiding 30 programs in 30 agencies serving Madison and other surrounding counties and regions.

Last year, Eastern surpassed its goal of $30,000 by nearly $5,000. While the official goal is set at $35,000 this year, Eastern is challenging itself to raise $45,000. If it succeeds, it will be the first time it has raised that much money.

The effort is in part with Madison County, whose goal is $360,000. Last year, the county raised $327,000 with the funds supporing more than 30 local programs, including CASA of Madison County, Telford Community Center YMCA, Foothills Community Action Partnership and Project Read.

“United Way is important to this campus,” Eastern President Doug Whitlock said. “It’s important to this community.”

Whitlock said Eastern is Madison County’s biggest employer and, therefore, a great importance to the county.

Marc Whitt, Eastern spokesperson and United Way Campaign chair, said Eastern has been known for more than 100 years as an academic community that cares.

“This is the one time each yearthat we can come together as an academic community and show our collective support for a most worthy cause that touches countless lives 24 hours a day, seven days a week,” Whitt said. “We will be successful because this university wants this campaign to be successful.”

So far, the university has received 176 pledges and nearly $22,000, Whitt said.

As far as contributions to the campaign, Eastern’s has grown a lot over the past several years, United Way President Kathy Plomin said.

In 2004, there was 9.7 percent participation at Eastern. Last year, that rate rose to 30 percent, Plomin said.

“We really are partners in this whole process,” she said. “Each day, you all change lives. The environment at Eastern Kentucky University makes such an impact and impression on young people. United Way, likewise, also has impact on lives.