United Way makes final push

Charitable organization hopes to raise $6.3 million this year

Every dollar counts.

“It sounds so trite but it really does make a difference collectively,” said Linda Hughes, CEO of the United Way of Greater Victoria.

When people’s basic needs are met, their lives can change.

“It’s that first step so that a child who has a healthy breakfast performs better at school.  They’re all steps to having a good start in school,” she said as one example. “The money’s cumulative, but the positive impacts are cumulative.”

The charity organization is on the final push to generate the remaining 20 per cent of its $6.3-million fundraising goal before the three-month workplace campaign ends for another year on Dec. 31. Pledged funds will be collected until the grand total is announced on Jan. 25.

Last year’s United Way campaign raised $6.2 million.

Despite tough economic times, the defence community at CFB Esquimalt not achieving its $725,000 fundraising total and some workplace campaigns getting off to a late start, optimism abounds at United Way.

Last week, the base and fleet announced they had raised $670,000, once again making it the United Way’s largest contributer. More funds are still coming in.

Crew members from HMCS Vancouver, which is patrolling the Mediterranean Sea, HMCS Regina and HMCS Algonquin raised a combined total of about $176,000.

“The enthusiasm and participation has been phenomenal,” said Vicki Laidlaw, the base and fleet’s United Way campaign co-ordinator.

Since 2004, the defence team has generated more than $500,000 a year for United Way charities.

Greg Conner, this year’s United Way community campaign chairperson, is optimistic the charity’s goal will be surpassed.

“Government has restraints, and I understand that, but every time they cut funding the need goes up,” Conner said, adding the United Way is the second largest funder of social programs in Canada outside of government.

Last year’s workplace charitable campaign supported 69 non-profits delivering 132 programs and services.

“United Way is all about getting people a hand up,” Conner said. “It’s not a hand out.”

To donate, please visit uwgv.ca, or call 250-385-6708.

emccracken@vicnews.com