By Charlie Bermant
Peninsula Daily News
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The Port Townsend Paper Corp. and Jefferson Healthcare both have a history of support for United Good Neighbors of Jefferson County since UGN was founded in 1957 by three mill employees.
This year, the paper mill and the hospital kept track of each other's contributions, racing toward earning more funds for UGN's safety net operations.
The final tally: Port Townsend Paper raised $45,000 with pledges from 122 employees, close to half the workforce of 285, while the hospital raised $41,664 from 158 employees, about 34 percent of its workforce.
“I just put them in the ring together, and they made it a lot of fun,” said UGN Executive Director Carla Caldwell.
“We don't have a lot of big businesses in Jefferson County so the mill and the hospital along with the schools provide a large share of what we collect.”
Caldwell said that UGN raised its goal this year to from $250,000 to $300,000 and still needs $40,000 to attain that level.
“A lot of people came through for UGN this year, said Kate Burke, Jefferson Healthcare marketing director:
“It's a great way to support people in need, and a way to show how much you care about the community.”
Port Townsend Paper's environmental officer, Kevin Scott, noted that the company is the largest private employer in Jefferson County.
“Our people are here, and this is our community,,” Scott said. “Not everyone is blessed with having as good a job as those at the mill, so those who have more are willing to give more.”
Port Townsend Paper President Roger Loney said that the company put more effort into the drive this campaign because of the poor economy.
“When times are difficult, the need for the services that UGN provides increases,” Loney said.
Caldwell said that the economy has curtailed the ability for charities to collect funds but added, “I have anecdotal evidence that it seems to be bouncing back.”
UGN allocates money for child safety and support and shelter for the homeless and intends to increase its allocation for mental health agencies, Caldwell said.
It provides funds to agencies in Port Townsend, Port Hadlock, Chimacum, Port Ludlow and surrounding areas.
The mill and the hospital are collecting funds through payroll deductions.
Caldwell said she is available to any company that wishes to set up a payroll deduction plan.
Individual donations also are accepted.
For more information, go to www.wearugn.org or call 360-385-3797.
Jefferson County Reporter Charlie Bermant can be reached at 360-385-2335 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.