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United Way of Central Alberta is seeking more support at a time of great need

Many corporations have come up with innovative ways to raise money: CEO
Workers at Dow Chemical’s Prentiss site raced in dinosaur costumes to raise $5,060 for United Way Central Alberta. (Contributed photo)

Whether central Albertans fundraise in dinosaur costumes or eat hot wings for charity, United Way of Central Alberta is hoping those who can afford it will be generous.

With rising food and utility costs, all Red Deer-area non-profits face a growing client demand for services, says Chelsea O’Donoghue, CEO of the local United Way.

“We are definitely highlighting that the need is absolutely greater” during the United Way’s fall campaign, she added on Monday.

Even some area residents with stable jobs are struggling because of inflation and higher interest rates, O’Donoghue noted.

United Way of Central Alberta — an umbrella fundraising organization that supports 29 local agencies which deliver about 35 programs — raised $1.86 million last year and is hoping to surpass that amount for 2022.

While it’s too early to gauge how the campaign that wraps up in December is going, O’Donoghue sees it as a positive sign that many local corporations have been participating in a big way.

There’s “quite a buzz” now that in-person fundraisers are being allowed again after two pandemic year, she added.

Some innovative donation drives trialed this fall include a fun obstacle course that was run by people wearing inflatable dinosaur costumes at Dow Chemicals, and a hot-wing challenge at Chandos Construction. “We’re getting some families working on our fundraisers too… People are really getting into it and are excited to be there…”

O’Donoghue admitted she’s also happy to be able to campaign in-person, as well as virtually. She feels “pretty optimistic” that central Albertans understand the value of supporting the United Way — especially this year.

Many agencies are hoping to get a bigger contribution so they can better meet rising client demands, said O’Donoghue. The Red Deer Native Friendship Centre and the CMHA both ran out of utility subsidy money from a Keeping the Lights on Program by March when it was supposed to last all year long, she added.

Catholic Social Services, Youth HQ, Turningpoint, Safe Harbour and many other groups are counting on the United Way for financial help, so she believes it’s important to keep central Alberta’s social services network strong during a time of hardship.

“Many people are on the edge and really struggling” — particularly those on fixed incomes, with mental health challenges or other disabilities, said O’Donoghue.

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