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HaysMed helps United Way reach goal

By JUDY SHERARD

jsherard@dailynews.net

The final piece of the United Way of Ellis County puzzle fell into place Wednesday when Hays Medical Center President and CEO Dr. John Jeter presented 2012 campaign chairman Derek Gerstner with a check for $69,000.

The campaign is "a little shy of $500,000. The goal was $475,000, and we still have some trickling in," said Jason Rauch, United Way executive director.

"It means the world that the community and large businesses put together their time (and) their effort to make a goal like this happen," Gerstner said. "All this money stays right here in Ellis County, which is one of the biggest things for us. (It) helps single individuals as well as organizations."

HaysMed associates sold cinnamon rolls and candy bars, hosted a basket extravaganza and casual jean week to reach their 2012 United Way goal, Jeter said.

The associates' goal was $50,000, their highest goal ever, and they raised $50,900. The hospital contributed the remainder of the $69,000.

"It's been a good campaign for us this year," Jeter said.

"We got right up to Christmas, (and) we were still short," Rauch said of the goal.

"HaysMed called right after Christmas and said we're going to get you there," Rauch said. "To feel that weight come off was incredible. We serve about 6,000 people, and the difference that HaysMed was going to make, was to be able to reach all those 6,000 people versus projects we were going to have to cut and leave people standing out there needing help."

HaysMed is the largest employer participating in the United Way campaign, Rauch said.

"All of our employers stepped up and really came through. NEW used to be a pretty big contributor for us, too. (They) still have employees here but are no longer a part of our group. That was quite worrisome for a while. We were wondering how we were going to be able to make up that difference. HaysMed just about covered the bulk of what we lost with NEW."

The 14 United Way of Ellis County member agencies are: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County, Cancer Council of Ellis County, CASA of the High Plains, Catholic Charities, Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, Ellis County Chapter of the American Red Cross, First Call for Help, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland-Sunflower Region, Hays Area Children's Center, Kansas Legal Services, Options: Domestic & Sexual Violence Services, Parents and Children Together, United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas and Western Kansas Association on Concerns of the Disabled.