PLATTSBURGH The men and women behind the annual effort to raise money for the United Way of Clinton and Essex Counties are working hard to prepare for their next campaign. The local United Ways 2008-09 fundraising campaign team, led by Denton Publications owner and publisher Daniel E. Alexander, held its first organizational meeting July 23. The team, said Alexander, focused on their overall fundraising strategy and assigning responsibilities to the respective team members. In addition, the goal for the next campaign was discussed, being tentatively targeted at $700,000 the same goal set in the 2007-08 campaign. The theme for this years campaign, said Alexander, is centered around the many roads one travels in life and in the North Country, focusing on how we all need help at one time or another. That sentiment is one he couldnt agree with more, said John C. Bernardi, executive director of the local United Way. You never know what awaits you around the next turn, said Bernardi. Even though we live in a vast region, youre never far from a friend, a neighbor or someone who cares. Our United Way is a mechanism that brings people together through giving, advocating and volunteering to have a positive community impact. Alexander said he is proud to be given the honor of serving as chairman for this years campaign, knowing the importance of the teams mission. Without the United Way leading the reins on fundraising for more than 30 organizations such as the National Alliance for Mentally Ill of Champlain Valley, Child Care Coordinating Council of the North Country, Girl Scouts of Northeastern New York and the Joint Council For Economic Opportunity, to name a few the already difficult mission of assisting them financially would be even more difficult, said Alexander. Every organization would be left to develop their own fundraising campaign and business would be forced to choose between 30 plus agencies all looking for funds, he said. Also, when you consider how efficient the United Way is, very few dollars go for administrative costs. Add those administrative costs to 30 plus campaigns and wed have fewer dollars reaching their intended targets. Being asked to be the leader is both an honor but also a major weight on ones shoulders, Alexander continued. I hope I can bring some enthusiasm, hard work, and some fresh ideas to secure the needed funding for the United Way. Alexander further remarked the United Way has a dedicated team of volunteers and staff on the campaign team with whom his job will be to try to keep pace with all of them and provide whatever assistance I can to help them in their efforts. Last years campaign exceeded its $700,000 goal by $22,330, a success Alexander was proud to see and one both he and Bernardi hope will repeat with this years campaign. You cant say enough about the good folks here in the North Country and how they step up to the plate when the call goes out, said Alexander. As they say, no good cause goes unanswered. And, this year the United Way will be forced to fill the void many will find in their lives. While times are tough this year, the needs of our friends and neighbors have never been greater and the support has never been more needed, added Bernardi. A press conference will be held in the coming weeks to officially announce the beginning of this years United Way fundraising campaign and introduce the 2009 campaign team, said Bernardi. The annual fundraising campaign kick-off breakfast will be held this fall, at a date to be determined. More information about the 2009 United Way fundraising campaign may be found on the organizations Web site, www.unitedwayce.org.