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Loudoun United in Giving

The giving is what got Loudoun United Way regional director Dave Tong going.

"Scores of companies" are giving to the 2003 United Way campaign Multiply the Power of You, Tong said. And several companies who left are coming back this year, including the Marriott and Amtrak, he said.

"I've had a lot of responses from companies I've gone to and people I've talked to. ... We're like a new United Way. We have a new executive staff and board of directors," said Tong, who took over as director in April and is the owner of a consulting firm in Sterling. "We're doing things right and ethical. I wouldn't be working for the United Way if I didn't trust them."

The Ashburn resident is going on a door-to-door campaign to raise more than last year's campaign total of $415,000. The metropolitan United Ways are not setting a monetary goal amount this year in response to the sluggish economy and a downturn in funding nationwide for non-profit organizations.

The Loudoun United Way campaign kicked off Oct. 16 and will conclude at the end of the year to raise funds for 30 to 40 non-profit organizations in Loudoun and about 1,400 organizations in the National Capital Area based on what donors choose. Several Loudoun companies that plan to give began signing up employee payroll deductions in August that will take effect in January 2004.

"I just think we're really fortunate to have the agencies that we have in Loudoun County," Tong said. "These folks work together. I don't see any cutthroat stuff, and everyone is out to help."

By campaigning, Tong saves the agencies from having to raise part or all of their own funds. The United Way got started in a similar fashion when three religious leaders in Colorado realized they duplicated efforts in their door-to-door campaigning. They combined their efforts and raised $21,000 in their first year in 1887.

"Small agencies don't have someone to campaign for them," Tong said. "Through the United Way, they can get exposure and funding."