AMHERST – Officials with the United Way of Cumberland are optimistic this is the year the organization will reach its campaign goal.
The organization kicked off its 2017 campaign Monday with the launch of the SMILE Cookie Campaign held in conjunction with Tim Hortons stores throughout the town.
“We’re very optimistic that we’ll raise more than we raised last year and we’re very confident we’ll reach the $150,000 mark,” United Way president Curt Gunn said. “Last year we raised just over $140,000, but we’re doing a number of different things this year that we know will help.”
After not having a ticket draw last year, the United Way is coming back with a special event in late November. The Festival of Trees will coincide with Amherst’s Christmas light-up and holiday kickoff.
“We’d like to have a number of decorated Christmas trees that people can bid on during an evening that will coincide with light-up and the Christmas parade,” United Way board member Dave March said. “There was a large crowd around town during those events last year so we figured we should capitalize on that by having an event to support the United Way. We want to make this an annual event. We’ll start small this year and make it bigger each year.”
The finale will be on Saturday, Nov. 18 at the Amherst Centre mall and will include events such as a craft fair and Breakfast with Santa.
Gunn said the United Way’s annual campaign supports a number of member agencies and at least 25 programs that wouldn’t exist if it weren’t for the United Way’s financial support – programs such as Meals on Wheels, offered by the Victorian Order of Nurses, as well as Maggie’s Place’s Pop Up Program.
“The United Way is so crucial to so many non-profit agencies and several programs would disappear if not for the United Way,” Gunn said. “Programs such as Meals on Wheels, the Smile and Shine programs are fully funded by the VON. We just made a contribution to the Amherst Preschool to buy new play equipment.”
Tim Hortons operations manager Lindy Marsh said the SMILE cookies have raised $47,000 in 15 years and he’s optimistic they will sell more than $7,000 cookies this year after raising $6,840 in 2016.
“It’s something that we take great pride in here at Tim Hortons. The United Way is a very important community organization that helps a lot of people,” Marsh said. “I know our staff take great pride in what they’re doing because they know people who’ve benefitted from the United Way and some of them have benefitted from its programs as well.”