WILLMAR -- With four days left in its 2011-12 campaign, the United Way of West Central Minnesota took time this week to honor all of the local businesses that have donated to the organization in the past year.
The United Way campaign officially ends June 30. The campaign goal for the year was $923,000. As of Tuesday, the organization had raised $861,681, nearly 94 percent of its goal.
At a luncheon Tuesday to thank donors, Renee Nolting, executive director of United Way of West Central Minnesota, said that even though they will fall short of their goal, she's still happy with how much they raised this year.
"Business campaigns are up, even though the economy has been down," she said. "We have a really caring business community here. We're very lucky."
Money donated to the United Way goes toward the organization's four impact areas: basic needs, health, income and education. A wide range of programs fall under those areas, including Meals on Wheels, Growmobile, Imagination Library and the school supply drive. In the coming year, United Way also plans to start focusing on programs to help the homeless living in west central Minnesota, Nolting said.
During the luncheon, Nolting also highlighted some of the different organizations that United Way partners with to provide services to the community. Representatives from Home to Home and Lutheran Social Services related stories of people and families who have been helped thanks to funding from the United Way.
"The need is great," said Dawn Clouse from Home to Home, which partners with the United Way's Gift in Kind program to provide furniture, linens and other home essentials to families in need. "Because of this partnership, we were able to serve all 175 families who came to us last year from all walks of life."
The United Way also presented three awards to local businesses that have been heavily involved with the nonprofit. Don Williamson from West Central Sanitation received the Give Award, Lakeland Broadcasting received the Advocate Award and Bethesda Day Break and Wellness Center received the Volunteer Award.
Nolting said that anytime someone donates their time or money to a cause, it's important to offer recognition for their efforts.
"You have to acknowledge those who have given, because they're the ones making the real difference," Nolting said. "They need to feel good about what they're doing. Even if it's just a paper certificate, we need to say 'thank you.'"