United Way reaches annual drive's $610,000 goal
WILLMAR -- United Way of Kandiyohi County raised $610,222 during its recently ended campaign -- funds that will be distributed among nearly 50 local agencies and programs whose services range from early childhood education to youth tobacco preven...
WILLMAR -- United Way of Kandiyohi County raised $610,222 during its recently ended campaign -- funds that will be distributed among nearly 50 local agencies and programs whose services range from early childhood education to youth tobacco prevention to bereavement support.
Three last-minute donations, including an anonymous gift of $2,000, helped push the campaign just past its budget goal of $610,000.
The final campaign report was announced Friday during the United Way of Kandiyohi County's annual celebration lunch.
"We had a great year," said Stacey Roberts, executive director of the United Way. "We are at our budgeted amount. We can say to our agencies we can fully allocate them."
Dozens of awards also were handed out to campaign volunteers.
In homage to the United Way of Kandiyohi County's 50th anniversary, the party featured a 1950s theme with live music, a burger-joint menu and retro costumes worn by the United Way staff and key volunteers.
Jim Bach, chairman of the 2005 campaign, said it was a challenging year in which to raise funds. Rising gasoline and energy prices cut into many people's ability to donate as generously as they have in the past, he said.
Hurricane Katrina, a devastating earthquake in Pakistan and the tsunami disaster created additional needs for charitable dollars, he said. "It's getting tougher to dig into our pockets."
It's a testament to Kandiyohi County residents that the United Way was able to reach its budget goal, even though it fell short of its overall goal of raising $630,000, Bach said. "These types of programs would not happen without your involvement," he said.
It also was a landmark year as the United Way launched several new initiatives:
- Imagination Library, which began in the fall of 2005. Families who sign up receive one free book each month for each of their children from birth through age 5. The aim: to promote kindergarten readiness by building children's skills in reading and comprehension.
The United Way staff expected to have 500 children sign up during the first year, Roberts said. Instead, more than 1,400 have joined.
"We're really proud to be able to offer this program to the community. We are getting testimonials already," Roberts said.
- United Way 2-1-1, a statewide telephone help line that connects people with local resources by dialing 2-1-1.
- Caring Connection, a Web-based service for matching organizations and volunteers.
One of the United Way's biggest initiatives will begin this year -- a comprehensive assessment of community needs and resources that will involve the public, nonprofit and business sectors.
The assessment is expected to take months to complete. Roberts said it will help the United Way gain a better idea of the most pressing local needs and help target resources where they're needed the most. It'll also provide a baseline for measuring future progress.
Nearly three dozen local businesses were recognized for supporting the United Way campaign through in-house campaigns, payroll deduction, corporate contributions and increased giving.