"We wouldn't be able to do the things we do here," said Sharon Whispell of the Tamaqua Salvation Army, as she gave her remarks to a large crowd during Friday's Schuylkill United Way's 2013 Tamaqua Area Campaign Kick-Off Luncheon at La Dolce Casa Restaurant in Tamaqua, with close to 50 guests in attendance.

"This year's campaign goal is to raise $1,002,013, including the Tamaqua area goal of $102,013, said Kris Verba, 2013 campaign chairperson. "Over 80 percent of what is raised is then allocated to the 15 partner agencies that offer a wide variety of programs and services and solely serve residents of Schuylkill County."

"At the start of the Tamaqua Area campaign, $61,277 is already raised to date," said Jeff Bowe, 2013 Tamaqua Area Chairman. "That is approximately 60 percent of the Tamaqua total goal. The county campaign has already raised $313,059, which is approximately 31 percent of the total goal.

"What we raise here, stays in Schuylkill County," Bowe added.

Of the overall total, Jay Jones and Bob Weaver, co-chairs of the Pacesetters Club, reported that $167,049 was pledged through the Pacesetters Club by 159 members.

This year, Bowe, accompanied by Assistant Chairman Brian Connely, spoke to the crowd and offered words of wisdom and encouragement as he captivated the audience and got them geared up for the 2013 "United To Make A Difference" Campaign. This year Connely will work alongside Bowe and is being groomed to be next year's 2014 Tamaqua Area Campaign Chairman. Both also serve on the Schuylkill United Way board of directors.

Other speakers during the kickoff included Tom Cara, board member, Schuylkill United Way; and keynote speaker Stephanie Barron, vice president, Sexual Assault Resource and Counseling Center (SARCC).

Others in attendance included Tamaqua Police Officer Karl Harig, the Rev. James Burdess of St. Joseph's Church in Summit Hill, Schuylkill Commissioners Gary Hess and George Halcovage.

During the breakfast, the 2013 campaign video was also unveiled. Ed Redding of R & D Communications along with VideoWorks Productions was instrumental in putting together this year's video for the Schuylkill United Way. The video highlighted the difference that the Schuylkill United Way and its agencies have made in the lives of people when life hands them difficulties, with a "when life gives you lemons" themed story.

Throughout the campaign, the Schuylkill United Way staff and volunteers will be giving employee presentations to local area businesses. The presentations last no longer than 15 minutes and include valuable information about both the Schuylkill United Way and partner agencies, along with a showing of the campaign video.

If you would like to sign up for an employee presentation, call the Schuylkill United Way office at (570) 622-6421 to schedule. For more information about the 2013 "United To Make A Difference" Campaign or to view their campaign video, visit www.schuylkillunitedway.org.

"Relationships we form will last way beyond this campaign," added Bowe. "We are united to make a difference."