Kicking off the 74th annual campaign

For the 74th year in Lethbridge, United Way will launch its annual fundraising campaign with the goal of raising half-a-million dollars. Community members are invited to join in the raising of the United Way flag On Tuesday, September 15 at 9:00am at City Hall.

This year, United Way and its partner organizations will be working more closely than ever before to create possibilities and opportunities for people in the community.

“One of our main purposes is to bring people together and work towards common goals,” says United Way’s Executive Director Jeff McLarty. “Over the last few years we’ve been working on our relationships with our partner agencies. By working together instead of separately to engage the community at large, we can make a huge difference here.”

Through United Way, employees at local businesses are able to make small, regular donations through their payroll department. As a result, earlier this spring, United Way’s Community Fund was the source of several hundred thousand dollars in grants to local community organizations and also over $65,000 in donations to other charities across Canada.

“The grant Big Brothers Big Sisters of Lethbridge receives from United Way is really important,” says Jen Visser, the organization’s Executive Director. “When I don’t have to figure out how to raise that money, I can focus more on providing a high level of service and making sure kids and families have the support they need.”

While grants from United Way’s Community Fund are still a big part of the inter-agency relationships, Danielle McIntyre, Executive Director at Interfaith Food Bank says there are other benefits as well.

“The grant we get is a great boost to our Baby Bundle program, sure,” she says, “but in addition to that, over 100 of our clients were able to attend a Hurricanes game. Several had their tax returns professionally prepared for free and we’ve even seen extra food donations and volunteer help recruited through United Way programs. ”

McLarty reminds the public that although the campaign runs until December, donations are welcomed throughout the year.

“You can donate on our website, www.lethbridgeunitedway.ca, or stop by our office, or talk to your employer about setting up a workplace campaign. That’s really the easiest way to make a big impact,” he says, “a little at a time.”