Approximately 300 guests gathered for lunch at the Killeen Civic and Conference Center on Thursday to celebrate the kickoff of United Way of the Greater Fort Hood Area fundraising season.

The theme of the event was “The Magic in Life is Giving,” and the local United Way showed guests what they have already done for the community. Last year, the organization raised over $600,000, but it is setting the bar even higher this season, and is hoping to raise $650,000.

“I think we’re really going to see people come through big this year,” said Don Ledsworth, the campaign coordinator for the local United Way.

The United Way provides funds to numerous community organizations, including scholarship funds for local students. Scholarship recipients from the Central Texas College fine arts department were on hand to provide musical entertainment during the luncheon.

The magic continued with a performance of “Magic by Carlos” by Carlos Vasquez, who brought volunteers from the crowd on stage to participate in his interactive illusions.

Guests then heard from Campaign Chairman Scott Presuhn. Presuhn has served on the United Way board for five years, prior to which he was a member of the Harker Heights Chamber of Commerce.

“I’m excited to take on the role as chairman,” Presuhn said. “United Way is huge for the community. There is so much need that you don’t see until you really get out in the community and see what all is going on, and what all isn’t.”

Presuhn’s remarks to the crowd were all about the magic of giving, as he asked the crowd to think of how much they give on a daily basis, whether it be time, money or attention.

“We all give and take without even realizing it, which is one of the reasons giving is so magical,” Presuhn said. “Each of us can perform magic by convincing just one non-donor in our community to give.”

Each of the more than 40 tables that filled the ballroom seated members from organizations that repeatedly give to United Way.

“It’s such a great organization and a great cause,” Terry Ratcliffe, with First National Bank of Texas, said. “United Way does so much for the community.”

The Killeen Independent School District also pitches in each year, encouraging employees to donate and getting students involved in campus fundraisers. Representatives from several campuses were present at the luncheon.

“We have such a wonderful community that does so much to support the school system, so being able to give back is tremendous,” KISD Superintendent John Craft said.

The United Way assists such agencies as the American Red Cross, the Children’s Advocacy Center of Central Texas, Cove House Emergency Homeless Shelter, Emancipet, Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts of America, Peaceable Kingdom Retreat for Children, among many others.

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