AMHERST, N.S. - The United Way of Cumberland is urging people to think of a donation to its annual campaign as an investment in the future of the community and those who need help the most.
The organization kicked off its 2018 campaign on Sept. 19 with the aim of meeting or exceeding the $136,000 it raised last year when its goal was $150,000.
“We have an important job to do as a community and that’s to support the work of the eight member agencies of the United Way and the work they do, not only in Amherst, but in communities across Cumberland County,” campaign chairman Dave March said. “The programs offered are very important and would be a huge loss if they were to disappear or be downsized because we can’t provide the funding raised through the annual campaign.”
Last year, March said one company, Tim Hortons, gave the campaign $6,700 through its SMILE Cookie campaign. The SMILE cookies are back again this year, but he’s hoping more companies, groups and even individuals will come up with their own fundraising ideas that could support the United Way.
“We’re challenging others to do the same. We’re asking what are you prepared to do to help the United Way this year? If you have an idea, contact the United Way office,” March said. “Even if we get one call from this we would have made tremendous progress.”
He said the importance of the campaign is immeasurable because the programs offered by the United Way’s eight member agencies touch people of all ages from every corner of Cumberland County from the Victorian Order of Nurses Meals on Wheels program, to the SHINE and SMILE programs, to Maggie’s Place’s Pop-Up program, the 211 program, Amherst Preschool, St. John Ambulance, the Sexual Health Centre for Cumberland and the Cumberland County Transportation Society.
The easiest way to contribute to the campaign is through payroll deduction. March said when he moved to Amherst in the early 90s he became a contributor to the United Way he signed up for payroll deduction. He said there are numerous companies that participate in that manner.
As well, at least 25 per cent of the campaign’s support comes from the annual mail-out that’s done.
Executive director Cathy Skinner said there are numerous supporters who return their envelopes with a donation or they bring them to the organization’s office on the second floor of the Maritime Professional Centre on Church Street.
“You’d be surprised at how many people support the United Way through the mail-out,” she said. “We have a number of people who are seniors or can’t do payroll deduction that write us a cheque every year or come by our office with a donation.”
While the United Way hosted a festival of trees last November to coincide with the Santa Claus parade, March said they are planning to have an information booth at the Amherst Centre mall on parade night where people can bid on a decorated tree, purchase tickets on a money tree or make a donation.
There are also discussions on bringing back the ticket draw that was held for several years until last year as well as other fundraising ideas.
“The fact is we need to meet the needs of our member agencies so they can continue providing the programs they offer to people of all ages from across the county,” March said. “We know we didn’t reach our goal last year, but we have to remain determined to raise at least as much as we raised last year so we can continue to support the work of these organizations. The work and the programs they offer is too important not to.”
He said people are dedicated when it comes to supporting things like Loonie and Toonie draws because they come with the potential of instant gratification in winning cash. March holds nothing against those organizations because they also need the money, but he said a Loonie or Toonie every week to the United Way could make a huge difference in the lives of the people its member agencies.
“If you give us $2 every pay you’re not only supporting organizations that do a lot of great work I this community and across the county, you’re also going to get a tax receipt,” March said.