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A united campaign

Not all habits are bad. In fact, some are to be highly encouraged.

Consider the annual fund-raising campaign conducted by the United Way of Ellis County. The habit, to the best of our recollection, is now 11 years in the making. In a nutshell, the routine is for the organization to set a record-breaking goal -- and then achieve it.

The 2012 campaign kept the streak alive. Aiming to reach $475,000 to assist the 14 member agencies, United Way Executive Director Jason Rauch said this week the total was "a little shy of $500,000."

A final push by Hays Medical Center allowed the group to surpass its goal. HaysMed, the largest employer participating in the campaign, came through with a check for $69,000. Through a variety of unique events and regular payroll deductions, associates at the hospital raised more than $50,000 and HaysMed donated the rest.

HaysMed President and CEO Dr. John Jeter was understated when he said: "It's been a good campaign for us this year."

It was a great year, by all accounts.

Best of all, it will allow all the member agencies to continue their respective great work without interruption throughout 2013.

"All this money stays right here in Ellis County, which is one of the biggest things for us," said 2012 campaign chairman Derek Gerstner. "(It) helps single individuals as well as organizations."

The 14 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.

Collectively, the organizations reach some 6,000 local individuals. While most do their own fund-raising as well, their missions are dependent on the United Way contributions. In some cases, that annual pledge represents a significant portion of the budget.

The community is grateful for these organizations, the local United Way and the dedicated volunteers and staff. The opposite is true as well. For without a generous and compassionate community, the others would not exist.

Keep up the great work, United Way of Ellis County. And don't even consider breaking the habit you've started.

Editorial by Patrick Lowry

plowry@dailynews.net