The United Way of Greater Mercer County, which came under fire from some other nonprofits for changes in the way it distributed its charitable dollars, held its annual Community Awards Celebration last month and emphasized not only the donors but also the economic benefit generated by their donations.

With an event theme of “A Celebration of Dollars & Sense,” the UWGMA recognized the following individuals and institutions:

Volunteer of the Year: Michele Dahan and Bonnie Mukerjee.

Campaign Excellence Award: Princeton University, Rider University and Solvay.

Special Event Award: Bank of America, Merrill Lynch, and the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation.

Company of the Year Award: FMC.

At the event, the United Way announced that this year, its United Financial Empowerment Center prepared more than 1,400 free tax returns to individuals and families earning under $50,000 with an average return of $1,467. The United Financial Empowerment Center tax preparers brought $2.09 million back into the county. This translates to a total economic impact of $9.03 million to the community.

UWGMC also announced that $1 invested in UWGMC brings back $10.07 in economic benefit to Mercer County. This is an increase of 11.11 percent from 2012.

Last year the United Way was reducing or eliminating its financial support to several area nonprofits (U.S. 1, December 5, 2012.) Instead United Way officials said they would concentrate their efforts on improving “the financial stability, self-sufficiency, and health of all Mercer County residents.” The agency (www.uwgmc.org) measures results “in terms of changed lives, cost savings and economic benefit returned to the Greater Mercer County Community.”

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