Hoses instead of hosiery have been the order of the day lately at Rice Hosiery Corp. in High Point, where executives and managers have been spending some of their afternoons in the parking lot washing employees' cars.

The car washes are a reward for employees who pledged a ``fair share' - one hour's pay per month - to the United Way campaign.The unusual incentive resulted in a 317 percent increase in contributions among Rice employees. They pledged more than $17,000 this year, compared to about $4,100 last year, said Greg Romeo, director of communications for the United Way of Greater High Point.

Of the 265 employees, 137 were fair-share givers. That's a lot more than Rice general manager Ray Lomax was expecting when he agreed to wash cars, but he's not complaining.

The results prove that Rice is a ``Can-do-er' company.

Four other businesses in High Point were selected as Can-do-ers in this year's United Way campaign. Their executives committed themselves to increasing employee contributions at least 20 percent over last year's giving, and so far the results have far surpassed that goal.

First Factors Corp. employees pledged $5,888, a 97 percent increase.

NCNB's High Point employees, spurred by the promise of a dinner cooked and served by their bosses, chalked up a 33 percent increase with their $7,312 total.

Alma Industries and Beeson Hardware & Lumber Co. haven't wrapped up their campaigns yet. But Beeson is projecting a $2,900 total, about a 300 percent increase.

And while Alma Industries changed its reporting from last year and can't make a direct comparison, the $43,000 in pledges projected there is ``definitely an increase,' Romeo said.

Can-do-er companies agree to conduct a model campaign, following guidelines that include CEO involvement, employee rallies, showing the national campaign video and letting employees contribute through employee deductions.

The United Way of America wishes every company would conduct a model campaign during the annual autumn fund drive, and the Can-do-er businesses demonstrated its effectiveness.

Agency tours, in which employees take a couple hours off from work to visit United Way agencies and see how they serve the community, are another part of the model, and one of the most significant, Romeo said.

``I think that's one of the reasons Rice Hosiery did so well,' Romeo said. ``They had about 75 employees go on tours.'

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