United Way Central Alberta announced its 52nd community fundraising campaign with about 400 supporters who attended its annual kickoff luncheon Thursday at the Sheraton Red Deer.
The event marked the start of a four-month fundraising drive to support more than 40 programs and services that improve education, health and reduce poverty.
This year fundraising efforts are led by volunteer campaign cabinet co-chairs Linda Wilson, owner of Corquest, and Red Deer Coun. Ken Johnston.
Johnston said 2017 has been a tough year for a lot of people, and the United Way can make an impact on the lives of Central Albertans.
“We have to give. We have to provide those opportunities. Let us help people find housing, find employment, help seniors live independently, help youth build healthy relationships,” Johnston told the crowd.
“Impact is what the United Way is all about.”
The 2016 campaign raised $2.2 million.
He said workplace campaigns for the United Way are the focus at this time of year and many companies represented at the luncheon have incredibly creative and imaginative campaigns.
“They have a lot of fun. They engage their people,” Johnston said.
Wilson said United Way helps agencies focus on their clients and services by providing funding support and creating community awareness.
“(United Way) is dedicated on focusing on key issues and working hand-in-hand, collaborating with community agencies for long-term solutions,” Wilson said.
Grade 12 student Tanner Grunow, who volunteers with the breakfast program Nutrition for Learning program for students in Sundre, said United Way Central Alberta helps pays for morning snacks for 600 kindergarten to Grade 8 students, and full breakfasts for 200 high school students.
“Without the United Way we’d probably have to shut our doors with hundreds of students dissatisfied and sad that they didn’t get a meal in the morning,” Grunow said.
“Nutrition for Learning gives the kids the power, the will, and the energy to go to school.
“When you don’t have the energy to go to school you struggle to focus and focus on the hunger.”