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Cumberland United Way launches 2019 campaign

The Pop-Up program, offered by Maggie’s Place Family Resource Centre, is just one of the services supported by the United Way of Campaign that has set its 2019 goal at $30,000.
The Pop-Up program, offered by Maggie’s Place Family Resource Centre, is just one of the services supported by the United Way of Campaign that has set its 2019 goal at $30,000. - Contributed

Goal set at $130,000 in support of community programs

AMHERST, N.S. —

It’s only a few bucks, but it can make all the difference in the life of a community.

As the United Way of Cumberland kicks off its 2019 campaign, its chairman, Dave March, is urging people to think of the price of a cup of coffee a day.

“So little can mean so much to the community,” March said. “Two dollars a day through payroll deducation at your employer may not seem like much to you on payday, but for our member agencies it represents the difference in being able to provide quality programming to residents from one end of Cumberland County to the other.”

The United Way of Cumberland officially kicked off its campaign with the annual SMILE Cookie promotion at Tim Hortons in Amherst. Last year, more than $7,900 was raised while over 16 years it has raised in excess of $68,000.

It’s events like this that make a difference, March said.

“Every year when we begin the campaign you never know what the response is going to be, but this community has a way of responding,” he said. “When I was thinking of how we could best promote the United Way this year I kept thinking of the slogan Give Local, Support Local.”

Of every dollar provided to the campaign, almost every cent goes into local programming that affects local people.

Last year, while it wasn’t looking good near the end the 2018 annual campaign made its $130,000 goal. That money went to support Maggie’s Place’s Pop-Up Program, the Cumberland VON, the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland, Amherst Preschool, the SMILE & Shine programs, Cumberland County Transportation Society, St. John Ambulance and 211.

‘There are some really great organizations in this community and we make it possible for you to support not just one of these organizations but a number of them who do great things,” March said. “For the little you give, you’d be surprised how big it can be if you, your friends, neighbours and co-workers got involved. These organizations do a great job of helping people. You may not need it today, but you may need it tomorrow or the next day.”

For example, SMILE and SHINE serve children with a variety of special needs and/or behaviour challenges from ages three to 21 and their families while the Pop-Up program provides an opportunity for children to develop and enhance their social skills by interacting with other children through free play and organized activities. Language and literacy skills are enhanced through stories, rhymes and songs.

“Maggie’s Place would not be able to offer this important outreach program once a week in six rural Cumberland County communities for 10 months of the year,” Maggie’s Place executive director Sarah MacMaster said. “Providing an opportunity for children to engage in play allows them to use their creativity while developing their imagination, dexterity and physical, cognitive and emotional strength and it allows children to explore the world and gain confidence.”

MacMaster said parents and caregivers can escape isolation and be in the company of others, she said, which is important for the health and well-being of them as well.

“The program facilitators bring with them a wealth of knowledge about support, resources and parenting strategies as well as introducing families to new songs, stories, art activities and games to carry on the learning at home.”

Also included are healthy snacks and in many programs Pop-Up is the only early childhood development program available.

These programs are free thanks to the money raised through the United Way and its donors.

This year, it’s also supporting the After the School Bell Program that is providing bags of food to students at both West Highlands Elementary (where the program launched last year) and Spring Street Academy (where it’s expanding to this year).

“All the programs we support are so important to the community and they truly make a difference in the lives of those people that need their help,” March said. “That’s why it’s important to give local so we can support local.”

Giving is as easy as signing up for payroll deduction at an employer, responding to the United Way’s mail-out or dropping by its office at 16 Church St., Suite 206, Amherst.

The campaign will officially kick off with an event on Oct. 9 at noon at the Community Credit Union Business Innovation Centre in Amherst.

The member agencies will have information booths and awards will be presented to supporters in business, government and elsewhere.

The United Way is also hosting a ticket draw on $4,000 cash with tickets selling for $10 each from United Way members, member agencies and at the United Way office.

The draw is on Dec. 27.

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