A crowd of accessory-inclined women moved the 2012 Cooke County United Way campaign $2,000 closer to its goal during Thursday’s catered luncheon at First State Bank Conference Center.

“Power of the Purse” allowed more than 100 ticketed guests to dine and participate in merchandise raffles featuring handmade purses and gift baskets, with raffle proceeds set to be directed toward the local United Way Youth Council.

Danielle Hobbs, president of the council, said the funds have been earmarked for families with financial needs and for a program that provides gifts for local hospitalized children.

The youth council is already several hundred dollars in the black, and its teenage members will be in charge of funding the programs during the coming holiday months.

“I think it’s saying that the kids are coming together in the community, and I think it will be a big deal,” Hobbs said.

During the dinner, United Way official Carolyn Powell credited the members of the council for their contributions.

“We all recognize the untapped potential and power of teenage volunteers and the desire to bring these teenagers to the table as stakeholders in our community,” she said. “These young ladies are working together to achieve the common goal of making our community a better place to live.”

And the larger component of Cooke County United Way — the annual fiscal machine that generates money for 18 local outreach agencies — is also operating in excellent stead. Campaign Chair Laura Otts said her committee is well on its way to meeting the 2012 goal of $398,000.

Nearly $300,000 has already come in, and for organizers to exceed the target figure before the campaign’s end, she admitted, is likely.

“The campaign is going fantastic,” Otts said. “A big part of that is because we had our ‘Weber Day’ in September this year as opposed to October. And Weber raises a ridiculous amount of money, and for that, we are eternally grateful.”

Thursday’s special guest was newscaster Adrienne Bankert of KTVT Channel 11’s “Morning Show,” who thanked the Gainesville-area guests for their contribution to Cooke County United Way.

The key to the organization’s regular success, she said, is unity — as with any other successful system — and the results can encourage others.

“If we don’t all unify together, some part of us dies,” Bankert said. “Some part of the American dream dies. Some part of charitable giving and helping our brothers and our sisters dies. Some part of pride and patriotism for this country falls to the ground, and doesn’t resuscitate.”

• Sponsors of Thursday’s luncheon included: First State Bank, Cooke County Electric Cooperative Association, Muenster Family Medical Clinic, Muenster State Bank, Nortex Communications, Cahoots Handbags, Lana Wiese of Mary Kay Dermalogica, Nancy Dresser, Jim and Vicki Robertson, Patsy Reed, Sole’renity Day Spa, Sisters, Dorothy Weaver of InStaff, Grace Adele, Angie Hare and Mark Reiter of Crossroads Express.

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