United Way celebrates 2017 successes in Southwestern Pennsylvania | TribLIVE.com
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Stephen Huba
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania volunteers hold up the numbers denoting how much was raised in the 2017 campaign -- $3.716 million -- during Thursday's annual awards lunch.

The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania provided more than 15,000 hours of volunteer service during the 2017 campaign.

Volunteer efforts ranged from providing rides to senior citizens to donating books to elementary school students.

At its annual campaign celebration last week, the United Way announced it had exceeded its 2017 goal of $3.7 million by $16,000. The amount was 5 percent higher than the 2016 campaign.

“We saw increases in the campaign support of several corporate partners this year, and that was critical,” said Bobbi Watt Geer, United Way regional vice president.

Geer said 86.5 percent of the money raised goes toward programs and services, staying in the county in which it was raised. The United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania covers all or parts of Allegheny, Armstrong, Butler and Westmoreland counties.

“We connect the dots. We solve problems. We change lives,” Watt Geer told 120 supporters gathered at Saint Vincent College’s Fred Rogers Center in Latrobe on Thursday.

More than 200 local companies held workplace campaigns over the course of the 2017 campaign.

Geer said 1,743 volunteers provided services last year, reaching more than 120,000 people.

“Behind each of these numbers is a story of a person helped,” she said. “They turned a difficult story into a success.”

Receiving the inaugural United in Service Volunteer Award for 50-plus hours of volunteer work was ABB Inc. Employees with ABB High Voltage Products in Mt. Pleasant visited Rumbaugh Elementary School over the last two years as part of the “Companies in the Classroom” project.

They logged 160 volunteer hours and distributed 1,400 books to kindergarten and first-grade students. ABB also donated $2,500 in school supplies, including highlighters, crayons, tissues, glue and cleaning supplies.

Receiving the Live United Award, a lifetime achievement award, was West Penn Power, which has raised more than $5 million since it began participating in United Way campaigns.

Although the 2018 campaign is under way, the campaign cabinet will not set a fundraising goal until later this year, spokeswoman Jackie Johns said.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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