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County backs United Way campaign
Commissioners note importance of UW efforts
United Way logo

Every fall, the United Way of Central Kansas holds its annual campaign to support the myriad non-profit agencies and programs that help improve the life of Barton County residents.

To honor this annual effort, the Barton County Commission Monday morning approved a proclamation declaring the months of August through December as United Way of Central Kansas Months. “We are in the depths of our campaign for United Way,” said Executive Director Gaila Demel. With a goal of $275,000, the drive kicked off with a campfire theme Aug. 17.

Area residents have always been supportive of UWCK, and the proclamation will add an exclamation point. “We just want to increase that awareness,” she said. 

“The goal of UWCK is to lighten the load of local non-profit organizations by helping to organize the community around shared goals for health, income and education,” Demel said. By providing a steady stream of donations to 22 local community partners, the agencies can focus on “boots-on-the-ground efforts” rather than fundraising.  

“The citizens of Barton County and all of Central Kansas should all enjoy healthy, meaningful lives,” Demel said. “United Way advances that common United Way focuses on education, income and health – the building blocks for quality of life – because everyone wins when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are in good health, she said. “It takes every part of the community – individuals, businesses and organizations – to supply the passion, expertise and resources needed to create lasting change for the better.”

“Money is hard to come by,” Commissioner Jim Dailey said. He applauded Demel’s efforts.

“It is a challenge,” she said. Many of the agencies they support receive public funding and that revenue stream is shrinking, making UWCK’s efforts more important.

“We help them fill a gap,” Demel said.

“Barton County employees have always been very supportive,” UWCK Board member Mark Mingenback said, adding they have taken part in the campaign’s payroll donation plan. Overall, businesses involved in the payroll portion of the drive generate about 50% of the drive’s total contributions.

Last year Barton County citizens contributed their volunteer energy as well as more than $250,000 dollars to the United Way of Central Kansas, Demel said. “Thereby, they invested in programs and initiatives that improve lives, build stronger communities and provide for a greater shared future.” 

UWCK serves all of Barton and Pawnee counties. Demel said she is also going to try to approach Pawnee County for a similar proclamation.

The co-chairs this year are Chris and Cari Ringwald, and Brad and Sarah Shirer.