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Weavers aid relief

In an effort to help those most affected by Hurricane Katrina, J. Wayne and Delores Barr Weaver, National Football League (NFL) team owners of the Jacksonville Jaguars, have stepped forward with a gift of $1 million to United Way. Their gift matches the NFL's $1 million donation last week for Hurricane Katrina relief and recovery and is the largest individual donation to United Way's Hurricane Katrina Response Fund given locally.

The national United Way organization, along with other local United Ways, is coordinating and mobilizing volunteers, resource development efforts, and capacity-building actions to help the health and human service agencies in those communities affected by Hurricane Katrina continue their work of providing critical and valued service to people in need.

Prior to the Weavers' announcement today, United Way of Northeast Florida's Board of Trustees voted to disburse $100,000 from the organization's emergency reserves for hurricane recovery and relief efforts both nationally and locally. Russ Jollivette, chair of United Way's Board of Trustees and senior vice president of public affairs for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Florida, stated, "We are deeply concerned about the immediate well-being and long-term recovery of the victims and their families. We hope that our gift, combined with others, helps restore the human service infrastructure that the evacuees and their families so desperately need."

The Weavers' gift, announced today, is over and above their $1 million pledge to United Way made earlier this year. Following her parents' example, the Weavers' daughter, Leigh Weaver, and husband James Sutton have made a contribution of $100,000. The Weavers also invited members of United Way's Alexis de Tocqueville Society, donors giving $10,000 or more, to partner with them. Wayne Weaver explained, "We invite those individuals who have the capacity to give, to join us by stepping up with an additional contribution above their traditional annual giving."

After a few preliminary calls, several Alexis de Tocqueville Society members have partnered with the Weavers and, to date, are collectively making an additional contribution of $100,000. Today, letters are being sent to the full membership inviting them to participate in this endeavor.

Delores Barr Weaver said, "Ours is a community where everyone works together to assist those who are in need thrive, especially the children. It is heart wrenching to see and hear about the many people who have lost their lives or lost everything they had. I hope everyone who can will step up to help."

Connie Hodges said, "United Way is deeply grateful for the generosity of the Weavers in donating $1 million to help our neighbors in the wake of this horrific natural disaster."

"Countless people have been devastated by Hurricane Katrina–all of us throughout the nation share the pain of this unprecedented catastrophe," Wayne Weaver responded.

Since moving to Northeast Florida as NFL franchise owners, the Weavers have had a long and rich history of supporting the community through United Way. In 1999, they made their first $1 million gift to United Way of Northeast Florida in the form of a challenge grant for the Alexis de Tocqueville Society. As a result of the Weavers' commitment, this challenge grant cultivated more than 175 new members.

In February 2005, the Weavers pledged their second gift of $1 million to United Way to continue the matching program. With that gift, the Weavers became the first NFL team owners in the history of the national United Way movement to give a second million dollar gift to United Way.

To make a donation to the United Way Hurricane Katrina Response Fund go to United Way of Northeast Florida's Web site, www.aboutunitedway.org , and follow the instructions for giving. So that each individual's gift to the response fund will have maximum impact, United Way of America has pledged to waive the administrative fee from any individual gift.

United Way of Northeast Florida works in partnership with volunteers, community organizations, and leaders to tackle critical issues facing children, youth, and families. United Way makes lasting changes that improve the lives of people in Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau and northern St. Johns counties. In addition, United Way leads United Way 2-1-1, a 24/7 information referral hotline; Life: Act 2, a proactive response to an exploding senior population; Full Service Schools, a community approach to removing barriers to academic success. For more information, call 904-390-3200 or visit www.aboutunitedway.org

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