The United Way of Bradford County has met its 2013 fundraising goal and recently began distributing free cards to the public that they can use to get discounts on the prescription medicines they buy.

The amount of money raised by the United Way of Bradford County during its 2013 fundraising campaign slightly exceeded the campaign's $400,000 fundraising goal, said Desiree Rockwell, chairperson of the 2013 campaign.

"We can't express our thanks enough to those who helped us" reach the goal, Rockwell said Thursday at the local United Way's Victory Celebration, which was held to thank donors and volunteers of the 2013 campaign.

For the first time, the local United Way this year had a corporate partner for its 2013 fundraising campaign, which helped pay a large portion of the costs of running the campaign, said Kerri Strauss, executive director of the United Way of Bradford County.

As a result of the generosity of the corporate partner, Chesapeake Energy Corp., 96 percent of the funds raised during the 2013 campaign will go directly to the agencies served by the United way, she said.

Ninety-six percent "is a fantastic number," Strauss said.

Last year, the United Way of Bradford County announced that it had, for the first time, hired a part-time, paid executive director. Having a corporate partner is enabling the local United Way to provide the same percentage of funds raised - 96 percent - to local agencies as it had done when it was an all-volunteer organization, Strauss said.

Money raised during the 2013 campaign will be distributed to 44 agencies, such as the Abuse & Rape Crisis Center, the local Area Agency on Aging, Big Brothers/Big Sisters of Bradford County, 4-H Clubs of Bradford County, and the Monroeton Public Library.

"The United Way of Bradford County is able to help improve the lives of the people of Bradford County and surrounding areas by efficiently raising and allocating funds for programs that meet community needs," Strauss said.

Strauss said that ideally, the United Way of Bradford County would like to have a different corporate partner each year, in order to continue to be able to pass along 96 percent of the money it raises directly to local agencies, Strauss said.

During the past year, the United Way of Bradford County, in partnership with FamilyWize organization, began to distribute free prescription discount cards to the public, Strauss said.

The cards can be used by anyone, regardless of whether or not they have insurance, and can be used by people who also have Medicaid or Medicare, she said.

As of Dec. 31, the cards have enabled people in Bradford County to save $398,928, she said.

Almost all local pharmacies, including all the major chains, accept the card, she said.

The cards can be printed from the local United Way's website, www.unitedwaybradfordcounty.org, or you can cut out and use the card that is printed in today's edition of this newspaper.

During the last couple of years, the United Way of Bradford County has organized a Day of Caring, during which groups of volunteers from a companies such as Penelec and M&T Bank do projects at an agency that receives United Way funds.

The projects have included painting the outside of buildings at the Bradford County Heritage Association's Historic Village and installing insulation in the Abuse Rape & Crisis Center's kitchen.

It's an opportunity to not only benefit agencies that have limited funding, but to better acquaint people who donate to the United Way with the agencies that benefit from their donations, according to the United Way.

The Victory Celebration was held at the Towanda American Legion.

James Loewenstein can be reached at (570) 265-1633; or email: jloewenstein@thedailyreview.com.