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United Way gearing up to reach fundraising goal

BELLEVILLE, Ont. (19/09/12) Judi Gilbert, executive director of the United Way of Quinte, is in charge of organizing the fall fundraising events. Photo by John Boldrick.

By John Boldrick

The United Way of Quinte is gearing up for its fall fundraising campaign with an aggressive fundraising goal and a number of community events.

The organization, which has been in the Quinte area since 1959, has events scheduled for the fall season including a number of truckload sales, where product are brought into places of employment in mass quantities and sold at a large discount.

“We have community sales, whereby, people can come and buy product at 50-70% off, and then all of the proceeds go towards the campaign,” said Judi Gilbert, executive director for the United Way of Quinte.

Truckload sales aren’t the only fall events.

“We have fundraising events, but we also have workplace campaigns, which are a big part of our campaign, “Last year, of the $1.807 million raised, 72% of that came from workplace campaigns,” said Gilbert.

The workplace campaigns, which will be taking place at various businesses in the area, feature many ways for employees to donate to the United Way, such as payroll deductions. Representative from the United Way go around to local businesses and talk to the workers about automatically donating a few dollars of their pay check to charity. Gilbert said every little bit helps.

“The great thing is that we have people that give $2 a pay, which is just as important as the people that give $10 a pay,” she said.

One such local workplace that has embraced the workplace campaigns is packaging company Gunther Huettlin Manufacturing, which donates to the United Way through many different avenues.

“”We do payroll deductions, we do product sales,” said Karen MacDonald, administrative assistant at GH Manufacturing, “We also do 50/50 draws, we had a silent auction.”

This year instead of bring in a truckload of products, GH is taking to using product order forms which employees can fill out to order said products, choosing to either pay in cash or through payroll deductions. This year’s sale runs the week of November 23.

MacDonald says that The United Way has become the companies go to when it comes to local charitable causes.

“It’s generally priority for us for charitable donations in this area, because we feel that it serves so many needs locally,” she said, “We try our best to encourage our employees to contribute locally to their community.”

The employees at GH Manufacturing raise close to $5,000, a donation which the company itself tries to match. Last year, GH donated $19,000 to the United Way.

“There’s less than 100 employees, they put their heart and soul into their campaign, and they raise several thousand dollars for us,” said Gilbert.

Gilbert also compliments GH for showing the kind of spirit that the United Way embodies.

“That`s what we`re trying to do with a lot of our workplaces- have the belief that it becomes a culture of United Way-ism,” she said.

This year, the United Way has raised their fundraising goal by six per cent, taking the number to $1.925 million. While this may seem like quite an ambitious goal, Gilbert said it is reachable.

“We feel that a lot of the new workplaces that we’ve become involved with, a lot of the new relationships and individuals in the community, that we`re going to be able to meet that goal,” she said.

Their kickoff golf tournament in late August raised $10,000. An event last weekend also raised $63,000 towards the cause. Another sale is planned for October 13 in Quinte West.

Another such event that United Way will help co-ordinate is the annual Loyalist truckload sale. For the past two years, Loyalist College has hosted the sale, which is put on by the Post Graduate Public Relations Program. Professor and program co-ordinator, Kerry Ramsay said that the college program has been in a close working relationship with the United Way since creation.

“Since the program was created eight years ago, we have had a fall event as part of the program, where we raise money for the United Way and over the years we have done a variety of fundraising activities. The past two years we were approached by the United Way to hold the campus truckload sale, which we have done,” she said.

The truckload sale for Loyalist is a fairly new idea for the College. In past years the program has held events such as the Deal or No Deal inspired event called Way or No Way. Other such events have included Halloween themed activities and a mystery envelope sale, where students can win prizes donated by local businesses.

The first sale took place in 2010 and raised $15,300 for The United Way. Last year’s edition raised $18,000 in just over five hours.

Ramsay has worked with the organization in the past.

“Prior to being hired as a professor at Loyalist, I was a director of communications at a community hospital, and in that capacity I helped to run the United Way on our hospital campus,” she said.

This year’s sale takes place on October 18.

The United Way of Quinte has a large impact on the community, as they currently fund 42 agencies in the area. Within those 42 agencies, 80 programs are supported. A few of the agencies include The YMCA, The Brain Injury Clinic, The Sexual Assault Center, Quinte Vocational School and Gleaner’s Food Bank.

For Gleaners, the involvement with the United Way is a large part of their operations.

“Their funds are very important for us,” said Susanne Quinlan, director of operations at Gleaners.

The food banks weren’t always a member of The United Way, however, as the closure of another local company lead to their involvement.

“We used to receive $40,000 directly from Nortel, and that would help pay for all wages,” said Quinlan, “However, Nortel is gone now and, so we don’t have that large donation of money, so we applied for united way funding.”

Last year, Gleaners received $40,000 from the United Way, which helped pay staff wages. Money isn’t the only help, as the annual United Way day of caring has seen the food banks have a new garden gazebo built for them, as well as help with various computer programs, helping to serve clients, unload trucks, garden work and other such jobs.

Last year, Gleaners served over 17,000 people through eight area food banks. So far in 2012, Gleaners has seen an incredible increase in usage.

The 17,000 people represent a significant amount of the total number of people that use United Way funded programs and agencies.

“Last year, 55,000 people accessed one or more of our funded agencies, and that’s an astounding number of people that need support, “ said Gilbert.

If people do not want to attend any community events, or do not have payroll deductions set up at their workplace, then there is another way for people to donate.

“We have quite an extensive direct mail campaign, and so there are many individuals in the community that support the campaign as well` and we certainly could not reach our goal without them,” said Gilbert.

While the donations from the United Way go a long way to helping the community, Gilbert said that in the future, the organization would like to do more to help.

“I think our ultimate goal is –  obviously however much money we raise will never be enough, there’s always that need. But our ultimate goal is to have a greater impact on what the root causes ‘are,” she said, “We will always be a fundraiser, but we want to have more of an impact in the community. We’re going to start looking at ‘What is the root causes of some of the issues in our community and how are we going to alleviate those things.’”

Gilbert attributes the success of the United Way’s campaigns back to the community.

“I am always amazed at how much giving comes out of Hastings and Prince Edward County,” she said, “It’s a credit to all of them for the support that we receive, that our agencies receive, and that all other charitable receive. We really live in a really great community that continues to give.”