By allowing ads to appear on this site, you support the local businesses who, in turn, support great journalism.
United Way to launch drive
new deh united way logo

Agencies served by the United Way of Central Kansas include:
• The American Red Cross
• Barton County Youth Care
• Barton County Young  Men’s Organization
• Big Brothers/Big Sisters
• Boy Scouts of America
• Catholic Social Services
• Central Kansas CASA, Inc.
• ElderCare
• Ellinwood Heritage Center
• Family Crisis Center
• Girl Scouts of Central Kansas
• Golden Belt Home Health & Hospice
• Great Bend Children’s Learning Center
• Meals on Wheels
• Ourselves and Our Families (Coalition for the Prevention of Child Abuse)
• Salvation Army
• Teen Court
• United Cerebral Palsy

This marks the second year and second campaign for the newly renamed United Way of Central Kansas. The annual drive to raise funds for charities begins Sept. 1.
“We have a lot going on,” said Julie Bugner-Smith. This is also her second campaign as the UWCK executive director.
The goal this year is $235,000, up from last year’s target of $225,000, and the theme is Live United. Leading the charge will be co-chairs Marsha and Roy Westoff of Great Bend and Tama Hanson of Larned, along with new board members Jane Fox of Larned and Becca Maxwell of Ellinwood. 
“We have a lot more diversification,” Bugner-Smith said. Now that UWCK covers both Barton and Pawnee counties, this extra representation is important.
Several of the agencies helped by UWCK have historically covered Pawnee County, but under the Barton County label, Pawnee County residents didn’t realize it. “It’s always been available to us,” Hanson said.
With the name change, residents are more aware now. “They know the agencies are there to help.”
“We have a community that helps its residents,” Marsha Westoff said. “United Way is such a big part of that.”
UWCK works with 19 agencies, but it goes far beyond that. “It’s a domino affect. A huge, huge number of people get touched by United Way.”
This is why she wants folks to take part in the effort. “If you get people involved, they will never forget” how UW benefits the area.
Westoff also said they are fortunate to have Pawnee County included now. “This way we can help more people.”
Key campaign events are:
• A breakfast for campaign coordinators and new volunteers from 9-10:30 a.m. Thursday, Aug. 11, at the Great Bend Public Library, 1409 Williams.
• The Buccaneer Bash starting at 6 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 20, at the Highland Hotel and Convention Center, 3017 10th, in Great Bend. “It’s a preview to get people excited about the campaign,” Bugner-Smith said. “It’s a party to benefit United Way.” Entertainment starting at 7 p.m. will feature musician, comedian and impressionist who goes by the name Kier.
Elements of the pirate theme will be incorporated throughout the drive. “We want to put the ‘fun’ in fund raiser.”
• Stuff the Bus from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 31, in the Wal-mart parking lot, 3503 10th in Great Bend. Unified School District 428 is lending a bus and the goal is to fill it with items needed by the UW agencies. Bugner-Smith wants to get the word out to student and civic groups who might want to take this on as a service project.
• The kick-off from 5-7 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 1, at the Best Western Black Angus Inn. This will include the presentation of the posters made by students.
Another fund raiser will be a drawing for a Harley Davidson motorcycle that will be given away during the Big Bend Bike Rally Saturday, Sept. 24. UWCK will also host coffees at chambers of commerce in Ellinwood, Great Bend and Larned, as well as sell T-shirts.
Bugner-Smith said the board set the goal with an eye to an increased need and fund cuts experienced by many of the agencies UWCK serves. “They need more money. The need is greater.”
Additionally, “more people are using their services,” Bugner-Smith said.
However, she is confident the target is achievable. She has always been impressed with the way the communities pull together and knows they will do so again.
“Of what we raise, 99 percent stays in our communities,” Bugner-Smith said. These funds go to help the 19 agencies that fall under the UWCK umbrella.
This may be the second year for UWCK, but it is the 49th campaign for Barton County.
To contact United Way of Central Kansas, visit the office at 1125 Williams in Great Bend, call 620-792-2403, or e-mail