Local United Way announces $2.5 million campaign goal

Krystle Wagner • Sep 21, 2018 at 10:00 AM

As volunteers served throughout Ottawa County on Thursday, the local United Way officially kicked off its annual Community Campaign.

The Greater Ottawa County United Way looks to raise $2.5 million with this year’s campaign.

Lyndsie Post, of Next Creative Co., is the chairperson of the 2018-19 campaign. The Jenison resident said they’re confident that with new and current donors that they’ll be able to reach the goal.

Post has been involved in the United Way for 12 years and has served in various roles.

“I’ve had an opportunity to see the positive impact on our community as a result of United Way’s work,” she said, “particularly in the area of education, where kids are entering school ready to learn, receiving support for successful school profession and completing post-secondary experiences which lead to sustaining employment.”

There are new incentives for those who contribute to the campaign.

A group of donors will match up to $93,000 for the Ottawa County Leadership Challenge, said Tracy Plummer, vice president of the annual campaign, and they are working to increase the amount that will be matched. The Leadership Match is available for donations of $500 or more from an individual working or living in Ottawa County. Any increase from leadership givers will also be matched.

Individuals age 40 and younger can join the Leadership Circle with a new opportunity. Anyone born in 1978 or later who gives a new or an increased gift of $250 will have their contribution matched.

The “Two Tickets to Paradise” campaign drawing is returning for the sixth year as an incentive. New donors who pledge $1 a week or donors who increase their contributions by $1 a week will be entered into a drawing to win an all-inclusive, four-night stay for two in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, with airfare.

Last year, more than $320,000 was generated by more than 2,200 donors in new gifts.

With a grant from the Padnos Family Foundation, Vice President of Community Impact Liz DeLaLuz said they will implement online software to help with community investment and other processes.

The local United Way says it leverages every $1 donated into $3.70 in community benefit.

Volunteerism is another component of the annual campaign. Last year, more than 8,220 Ottawa County residents volunteered a combined 143,076 hours, and they leveraged more than $3.2 million in labor support, said Shannon LaHaie, vice president of volunteer engagement.

“It’s a very philanthropic place to live,” she said.

The number of individuals volunteering for the Day of Caring increased from last year — from 632 in 2017 to more than 1,250 who participated in the 45 projects on Thursday.

Almost $20,000 worth of supplies was collected from 48 locations and 550 backpacks were given out through the Stuff the Bus initiative. LaHaie said they know there is more need, and they’re looking for ways to reach additional families.

Looking ahead, Rake-A-Difference for Veterans Day will take place Nov. 17. Students Live United will also participate in a holiday stockings project.

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