The United Way of Union County is gearing up to kick off its 2010 campaign. The theme will be "financial responsibility," organizers said.

The United Way of Union County is gearing up to kick off its 2010 campaign. The theme will be "financial responsibility," organizers said.

The 2010 campaign kicked off last week with fundraising efforts in 51 area workplaces, according to campaign and public relations director Dave Bezusko. Over the next three months, United Way volunteers intend to raise $875,000 to meet the growing demand for social services in Union County, Bezusko said.

County residents have continued to see the value in helping United Way, he added. Giving to the organization has increased each of the last four years. The organization raised $831,488 in its most recent campaign.

"2010 is the year of financial responsibility," said Jim Cox, volunteer campaign chairman. "Coming out of the recession, something on everyone's mind is being able to stretch our dollars and make them go as far as they possibly can."

Cox said that United Way has adopted new standards that are required of its funded partners, as a way to ensure greater accountability and measurable results.

"We shifted from straight agency funding to program funding," Cox said. "This increases accountability of the agencies to show outcomes of their programs and produce results. Donors require this accountability and your gift to United Way gives it to you."

The United Way of Union County supports county programs that support residents in four areas, Bezusko said emergency and basic needs, youth services, senior services and health and human services. More than 22,000 county residents are assisted by the programs.

One county resident who benefits from such services is firefighter Bryan Oiler, from Raymond. Oiler, who is fighting prostate cancer, said that he gets financial assistance through the Union County Cancer Society to reimburse his gas mileage to and from treatments in Columbus.

"I'm the one usually giving the help and not taking it, so the tables were turned," Oiler said. "The treatments and cost, along with the emotional toll on me and family, has been something new to us. But the United Way and Union County Cancer Society stepped up to the plate and hit a home run. This really came at a time of need."

About 90 percent of the United Way's campaign results from residents giving via payroll deductions and subsequent corporate matching, according to Bezusko. Other funds received by the campaign are raised through direct mail, special events and volunteer efforts. The average individual gift to United Way of Union County last year was $162.

Bezusko said that those interested in volunteering or donating in this year's campaign can find out more online at www.unitedwayofunioncounty.org or by calling 937-644-8381.