Jeff Heuchert email@example.com
The wheels were set in motion Thursday for yet another successful United Way Perth-Huron fundraising campaign.
Over $75,000 was raised during the agency's third-annual "Care-A-Van of Hope." United Way staff, volunteers, and supporters travelled throughout Huron and Perth counties, stopping at Scotiabank branches to hear stories from United Way member agencies and accept additional donations.
Scotiabank not only helped promote the 2013 campaign in its branches but agreed to match donations made between Dec. 5-12 up to $15,000.
Rob Roes, community branch manager for Scotiabank in Stratford, said after the tour he was thrilled with the results.
"As United Way Perth-Huron's largest supporter in the region, we are proud to build on years of partnership and celebrate the work of such an important charity in our region," said Roes, who is also a United Way board member. "Hats off to the many volunteers and staff for their hard work and for making the day an incredible success."
The United Way has now reached 80 per cent of its campaign goal of $1.115 million.
The cross-county tour began at 9 a.m. and included stops in St. Marys, Exeter, Goderich, Listowel, Milverton, Mitchell, and finally Stratford, where the "Care-A-Van" team arrived shortly before 5 p.m. at the Ontario Street branch to celebrate the day's achievements.
"It's been a great experience," commented campaign co-chair Wayne Smith. "Friendly people at every stop."
His fellow co-chair, Ron Shaw, said the "long, snowy trek" was well worth it, and encouraged people to keep giving so that the United Way can exceed its goal and support some of the roughly $150,000-worth of funding requests that have to be turned down each year.
"I would really like to do that this year," he said, adding, "all of your contributions will be put to good use."
The day's largest donation – over $9,000 – was made in Stratford by Steelcraft Technologies Inc. Staff held a silent auction and the money raised was matched by the company's corporate office.
Much like the first two years it was held, the "Care-A-Van" ran into less than ideal weather conditions on Thursday, though organizers smartly decided in advance to move the individual presentations inside, rather than hold them outside like years' past.
"We did learn our lesson from the last few years," laughed United Way executive director Ryan Erb, who during his comments underlined how important it is for people to donate towards the campaign.
In Stratford alone, almost 5,500 people receive support from one of 17 United Way-supported programs or agencies, he noted. Across the two counties, over 45,000 people benefit.
Lisa Wilde, executive director of the Emily Murphy Centre, talked about how the United Way has helped make a difference for the families who enter the second-stage housing for abused women. The centre has been able to hire a children's worker with the funding it receives from the United Way to assist kids through what can be a difficult time in their lives. Last year the worker assisted 147 children.
"Children know they can get help," said Wilde, "… that they can move forward in a really positive way and have joy in their lives once again. That's what the United Way does."
Also on hand to bring greetings and congratulations to the United Way and Scotiabank for their efforts were representatives from the County of Perth and City of Stratford. Letters were also read from MP Gary Schellenberger and MPP Randy Pettapiece.
The United Way's 2013 campaign officially closes Dec. 15, though executive director Erb said the agency would continue to accept donations into February.