SHALIMAR — United Way of Okaloosa and Walton counties announced Thursday its continued support from the community by exceeding its goal of $1.2 million raised in 2012.


SHALIMAR — United Way of Okaloosa and Walton counties announced Thursday its continued support from the community by exceeding its goal of $1.2 million raised in 2012.



The nonprofit organization whose affiliates and funding reaches one in four local residents said that while giving has become more challenging in a slow economy, it continues to receive contributions from businesses and residents to keep it going after 55 years.



“When you filled out a pledge card, maybe you wondered, ‘Will my gift make a difference?” Jack Azzaretto, chairman of United Way’s board of directors, said Thursday in his speech at the 2013 Victory Celebration at Shalimar United Methodist Church. “The answer is yes. Because working together we passed our goal, (receiving) $1,200,051 for Okaloosa and Walton counties.”



The money goes to dozens of other nonprofits and programs to help people to provide education, income stability assistance and healthy lifestyle choices.



“This was a monumental task we achieved,” Bill Robinson, president/CEO of United Way, said in a telephone interview. “It’s down from last year, but there is a lot of uncertainty that people are dealing with and we surpassed our goal.”



One of the main contributors to the United Way’s 2012 campaign, “Live United … Results You Can See” were the eight Publix groceries in the two counties. Their employees and the company donated $323,000, or 25 percent of the total amount collected.



“They were a bright spot in all this,” Robinson said. “Like every other organization, there are less people with less jobs across the board, so the giving from Publix was remarkable.”



Details of the 2013 campaign will be announced in March along with the fundraising goal. A board meeting is scheduled in the coming weeks to decide on the details.



“I urge each of you to continue your support of the United Way in the years to come,” Azzaretto, said in his speech at the celebration. “This is a phenomenal organization, which has the power to light up so many lives.”



Contact Daily News Staff Writer Angel McCurdy at 850-315-4432 or amccurdy@nwfdailynews.com. Follow her on Twitter @AngelMnwfdn.