As the official portion of the United Way of Central Kansas’ 2020 campaign comes to a close, Executive Director Gaila Demel is optimistic about its success.
“It just feels better,” she said, referring to the mood of donors this year compared to last when the drive fell short of its goal. “People are always generous in these communities.”
With a target of $275,000, the drive kicked off with a campfire theme Aug. 17. The annual campaign typically runs from August through December.
As of this week, UWCK sits at about 65% of its objective, which is normal for a good year, she said. “It’s looking good. We are ahead of where we were last year at this time.”
Some of the larger business contributors, known as Pacesetters, have yet to report their totals. These won’t be tallied until mid January.
In the meantime, “now is still the perfect time to give,” Demel said.
“As UWCK begins to wind down our annual campaign, we continue to reflect on the idea that it only takes one person, one donor, one advocate, one volunteer to make a difference,” Demel said. “You can see this every day when you smile as you pass someone in the store, when you let someone merge in front of you on the road, or as you hold the door open for someone. These little actions can change a person’s day.”
She said the communities and those who call them home can be the ones to change a life in central Kansas. UWCK serves all of Barton and Pawnee counties.
A growing need
And, Demel said, a lot of folks need help.
“We’re getting more referrals for people needing help with utilities, shelter and food,” she said, most commonly for young families and seniors. “We’ve had a lot more of these phone calls come through this year.”
So, “with every dollar you choose to donate to United Way of Central Kansas, you could be the one to support a family getting back on their feet after a setback,” she said. “You could be the one to help a child out of an abusive situation. You could be the one ensuring that a child is prepared for Kindergarten.”
With more than 3,000 resident of Barton and Pawnee counties donating to UWCK each year, “imagine what the agency could do if each donor asked one more person to donate as well. Imagine if each of those donors chose to donate just one more dollar or volunteer one more hour. Imagine where we could be as a community if we all just gave one more,” she said.
“With 99% of the funds raised staying local and all decisions on funding and programming made right here in Central Kansas, you can rest assured that the money you donate to UWCK will be used with the upmost concern for our families, neighbors, and friends in Barton and Pawnee counties,” she said. “We thank you for your past support of UWCK and look forward to continuing our mission, with your support, of being united for our community.”
An ongoing effort
However, even though the campaign nears its conclusion, “the needs don’t go away,” Demel said. “Our agencies rely on continued donations, so our campaign never really ends.”
In other words, UWCK will take contributions throughout the year.
“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 co-chairs this year are Chris and Cari Ringwald, and Brad and Sarah Shirer.
Donations can be made online at www.uwck.org or by mail to 1125 Williams, Great Bend, KS 67530. One can call 620-792-2403.