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Looking backward and forward
UWCK has successful year, looks to the future
new deh united way update pic web
United Way of Central Kansas staff members Paula Mauler, Gaila Demel and Charell Owings take their turn ring the bell during the Salvation Army Red Kettle Campaign this holiday season. - photo by COURTESY PHOTO

 With this year comes to an end, United Way of Central Kansas wanted folks to take a moment to look back at 2017 and reflect on how the communities came together to create real impacts on the lives of fellow residents. 

“As we wind down our 2018 Campaign to fund our 23 community partners, we are so grateful for the support that we see every day,” said UWCK Executive Director Gaila Demel said. “From donations large to small, each one makes a difference, and touches the hearts of our staff, Board, and our Community Partners, who are on the frontline, helping those in our communities that need our help.” 

UWCK, which serves Barton and Pawnee counties, is well on its way to reaching its $275,000 goal, she said. “But we still need your help to get over the final hurdle.”

She rattled off the following list of accomplishments:

• With the support of local churches, businesses, and individuals, UWCK, along with Meals on Wheels, ElderCare Inc, and Golden Belt Home Health and Hospice, homebound seniors received Valentine’s Day boxes filled to the brim with necessities and fun items to brighten their day and let them know that there is a community around them that cares. 

“The smiles from those who received those boxes carried over to each person who had a part of this amazing project,” Demel said. 

• In March, UWCK Board members went to local pre-schools to read to the children to celebrate Dr. Seuss’ birthday. 

• Also in March, hands-only cardio-pulmonary resuscitation kits were presented to Great Bend High School. The kits include training modules and CPR mannequins for high school students. Kits were also delivered to Hoisington, and Larned in late 2017. 

• In April, with the support of OPI, the Barton County Young Professionals, and Dillons, UWCK delivered Literacy Kits to nearly 400 pre-K students in Ellinwood, Hoisington, Great Bend and Larned. 

• May saw even more smiles on the faces of children when UWCK reached its goal of kicking off Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library (that supplies free books to kids through age 5) in Hoisington and Otis, which was followed up in August with the beginning of the program in Great Bend. 

• “In August, we were again fortunate enough to see the generosity of our communities with our Stuff the Bus program,” Demel said. “Our 23 Community partners were grateful for the efforts of all the volunteers that helped and the donations that were received.” This project collects supplemental items, such as paper and toiletries, for UWCK agencies.

• The annual Kickoff event was also in August. “The crowd was amazed as Curtis the Mentalist impressed the entire audience and helped UWCK to raise much needed funds to support our community partners.” 

• As Labor Day weekend rolled up, UWCK was honored to be a part of the Touch-A-Truck event in Hoisington, handing out hot dogs, chips, and water to those in attendance. 

• The past few months have been busy with Workplace Campaign presentations, Dine United events, Jeans Day, Poster Presentations in each of the four communities UWCK serves in Barton and Pawnee counties, Reality U at Great Bend Middle School, and Holiday Date Night in Ellinwood. 

“We wish each and every one of our neighbors, friends, and family the happiest of New Years and thank you for your continued support,” Demel said. 

The UWCK 2018 campaign co-chairs are Chris and Nancy Baird, Randy and Debbie Deutsch and Eeric and Tiffany Schoendaler. Executive Board members include President Desa Marmie-Behr, Vice-president Mark Mingenback, Secretary Becca Maxwell and Treasurer John Cross.

To make a contribution, visit the agency’s website and click on “Donate,” or send the donation to UWCK, 1125 Williams, Great Bend, KS 67530.