NEW YORK — A phonathon for the People’s Weekly World fund drive here pulled in over $2,500 in the first few hours, Jan. 16.

New York’s readers have taken on the highest goal in the country at $35,000. With the new proceeds just being turned in, they have now topped $20,000. That leaves just over two weeks to raise the final $15,000.

Elena Mora, chair of the N.Y. State Communist Party, is not worried by this task. “We’re confident that when we talk to the readers of the paper in New York, they’ll come through like they did last year, like they always do,” she said.

A year ago, in the final week of the 2004 PWW campaign, New York raised $10,000, pushing its total well over the goal.

This year, the phonathon was marked by “lots of enthusiasm,” said Jenn Perna, who helped organize the event. “It was very encouraging.”

The phonathon was launched on Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Jr. Day, for a reason, organizers said: the holiday represents exactly what the People’s Weekly World/Nuestro Mundo stands for — the struggle for justice and equality for all people.

The PWW has used its pages, in print and on the web, to battle racism nationwide and here in New York. Although the print version was not published over the December holidays, the Online eXtra carried daily updates on the city transit workers’ strike and their ensuing victory, helping to build support and exposing divisive racist attacks by Mayor Michael Bloomberg and other officials.

Phonathon organizers pointed out that this continues the long history of the PWW and its predecessor the Daily Worker in crusading coverage of New York-based struggles. They recalled that the Daily Worker used its pages to wage a battle against segregated baseball, when no other news publication in the country would touch that story. The paper’s sports editor Lester Rodney was recognized for his role in getting the Brooklyn Dodgers to break the racist color bar by hiring Jackie Robinson, the first African American ever admitted to the major leagues.

Phonathon participants said they were happy to make phone calls for the PWW because of its 80-year history on the side of peace, justice, democracy and socialism.

To make a contribution, call (646) 437-5363 to pay by credit card, or send a check to People’s Weekly World, 235 W. 23rd St., New York NY 10011.