Ahead of the official kickoff, a joint fundraising campaign for two Frederick family service agencies has already made strides toward its goal.

The Frederick Strong: 72 Hours of Caring for Marriage and Families had raised $15,200 as of Friday, according to Chris Bugher, executive director of the Marriage Resource Center of Frederick County. The three-day fundraising campaign begins Sept. 6, with the goal of raising $40,000 to split between the Marriage Resource Center and Care Net Pregnancy Center of Frederick.

“We are very hopeful we will hit our goal, and really exceed our goal,” said Linda King, executive director of Care Net.

Donations to date have come from sponsorships by local business and community organizations, Bugher said. She hoped to hit $20,000 in sponsorship contributions, which would provide a one-to-one match if $20,000 is raised in individual donations during the campaign.

The proceeds from the campaign will bolster the programs and services each organization offers, leaders said.

Care Net offers medical testing, support services and counseling to pregnant women and new parents. The Marriage Resource Center provides mentoring and classes to couples and families intended to foster healthy relationships.

The two organizations announced the joint campaign in July after both were excluded from the 2017 Unity Campaign for Frederick County, an annual countywide fundraiser for social service agencies. Both Care Net and the Marriage Resource Center have been recipients of the Unity Campaign and one of its predecessors, Frederick 48, in years past.

The Unity Campaign was created after Frederick 48 merged with a separate, fundraising initiative called Season of Hope, which was started by The Frederick News-Post.

Care Net and Marriage Resource Center again applied to participate in the 2017 campaign but were not among the 27 service agencies selected. Ken Oldham, executive director of United Way of Frederick County, which is organizing this year’s Unity Campaign, has said that the programs these organizations sought funding for did not meet the campaign’s primary focuses: basic, emergency human needs and at-risk youth.

Both organizations were also given the chance to reapply after the initial denial, according to a United Way statement. One did not, and the other did not need money for the program that would have qualified, the release stated.

Although Frederick Strong organizers have repeatedly used the word “excluded” in written statements and on the campaign website to describe what happened with Unity Campaign, Bugher emphasized that they want to keep the fundraiser positive.

“We want to do this with integrity and honesty,” she said. “We don’t want to denounce United Way, but to celebrate and promote our organizations.”

King echoed her statement. Asked if she anticipated the campaign would become an annual fundraiser, though, King said that would depend on what happens with the Unity Campaign in future years.

“It was obviously not our desire to be excluded [from Unity],” she said. “We would hope we would be included in future Unity campaigns.”

She added that if they were not a part of future campaigns, they might again form their own, alternative fundraiser.

The campaign total will be announced as part of an event for major donors on Sept. 14, Bugher said.

Follow Nancy Lavin on Twitter: @NancyKLavin.

Nancy Lavin covers social services, demographics and religion for The Frederick News-Post.

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