The Capital Area United Way reached its fundraising goal of $500,000, the highest sum the organization has ever attempted to bring in, Gloria Hanson, the organization’s executive director, announced at a media conference Thursday.

The goal was an aggressive one for the organization, being $77,000 higher than its 2011 goal. Hanson said she knew it would be tough but didn’t doubt it could be done.

“We were prepared to stretch,” she said.

The campaign is also one of the shortest in recent years, with the 2010 and 2011 campaigns lasting into spring.

A $5,000 donation, raised by the Oahe Child Development Center, is what pushed the campaign to its conclusion, Hanson said.

Capital Area United Way will begin distributing the funds next week to 21 partner agencies.

Building on the campaign theme of “It Matters” Hanson said achieving the ambitious goal means something to the United Way, its partner agencies, the donors and even the youth of the community.

“It’s important for youth to see parents, teachers and other adults in their lives being charitable,” Hanson said.

Next year’s goal has not been determined, but it won’t be under $500,000, she said.

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