United Way representatives hope to raise $950,000 this year to help the 23 local agencies it supports: That target is up from last year’s goal of $900,000.

The goal was announced during a fundraiser kickoff Wednesday evening at Subway World Headquarters. Elizabeth Rolfe, director of new business development at Subway, started the night off with a donation of $1,000 from Subway, in honor of co-founder and CEO Fred DeLuca, who died Sept. 14. DeLuca attended last year’s United Way kickoff at Subway, and speakers paid tribute to him at this year’s event.

“Fred was an icon,” said United Way President Gary Johnson. “It is surreal that we are in this building tonight without him.”

The fundraising goal was stretched this year, even though volunteers didn’t quite make last year’s goal of $900,000. They came close though, raising $886,000.

Johnson said the elevated goal is due to a slightly improved economy and greater need among the agencies that the United Way supports.

“More and more people are in need, and we’re stretching ourselves to meet that,” Johnson said.

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The United Way supports local groups, including the American Red Cross, Beth-El Homeless Center, Boys & Girls Club, Milford Senior Center, the YMCA and more.

City officials said there are many ways to give money, but they said the Milford United Way is one of the perfect choices for residents because the donations benefit people right here in Milford.

Mayor Ben Blake described donating to the United Way of Miflord as a “strategic investment,” and board chairman Henry Jadach likened it to “one stop shopping” because people can make a donation and benefit a number of different organizations.

The start of the United Way’s annual fundraising season is usually called the start of the annual “campaign.” But Diane Candido, co-chair of the campaign with her husband Tony, said she decided to change the term from campaign to “community appeal” so as not to confuse this campaign with election campaigns going on now.

“I went to Henry Jadach, and now it is the United Way Community Appeal,” she said.

Tony Candido got teary when he talked about the kind of work the United Way does. He talked about an older woman who was living with her son, but then the son died and the woman was left home alone. It was a while before anyone realized she was by herself, with no one to shop for her or care for her.

The woman didn’t live in Milford but rather in a nearby community. Candido contacted Milford’s United Way president, who put him in contact with people who could help.

“It worked,” Candido said. “Now she has food and live-in health care.

“This is what the United Way does,” Candido said.

The United Way of Milford hopes to get its fundraising efforts off to a big start with an upcoming show at the Veterans Memorial Auditorium in the Parsons Center, 70 West River Street. The Magic of Motown will take place Friday, Oct. 16, at the Parson’s Center, starting at 7 p.m. Tickets are $40. For information call the United Way at 203-874-6791.

To donate to the United Way, call 203-874-6791 or go to unitedwayofmilford.org.