United Way of Saline County kicks off annual fundraiser

Monday, October 9, 2017
Monsanto representatives present a $1,000 donation to the United Way of Saline County during the United Way’s annual campaign kick-off luncheon Friday, Oct. 6.
Sarah Reed/Democrat-News

Representatives from Monsanto presented a $1,000 check to the United Way of Saline County Friday afternoon, Oct. 6.

The donation comes at a time when United Way is gearing up for its yearlong campaign. Friday marked the annual kick-off luncheon. Soon, its traditional fundraising goal sign will be displayed on the Saline County Courthouse lawn, highlighting for the community how many funds are raised throughout the year.

But Friday, the agency not only acknowledged the need for funding, its members also took an opportunity to compliment the participating agencies.

Supporters and representatives of member agencies enjoy a lunch catered by Lori’s Catering during the United Way of Saline County annual campaign kick-off luncheon Friday, Oct. 6. The lunch was held at Covenant Presbyterian Church, in Marshall.
Sarah Reed/Democrat-News

“I’ve been involved with United Way for several years now, and I’m continually impressed with the agencies that we work with and the work they’re doing in Saline County,” board member Matt Van Vactor said, adding that it’s a privilege to work with those agencies. “I would love to be that guy with a big Styrofoam check … the reality is, we don’t really have the means to do that. United Way gives us that ability. It gives us that ability to help folks right here in our county and help the agencies that are working with those folks who need help.”

Ninety-eight cents of every dollar given to the organization stays in the county. Van Vactor encouraged the crowd to think about individuals they know in the community – to believe in what they are asking people to support.

Some of the United Way’s outreach efforts are finding ways to transition. This year it has a Facebook page, in order for the organization to promote the agencies it sponsors as well as the campaign. It will also start reaching out to people in the faith community by hosting a hymn festival at 6 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 16, at First Christian Church in Marshall. According to board member Derek Wittman it is an “old fashioned hymn sing,” which will also give participants an opportunity to talk about United Way agencies.

Two of the agencies featured at Friday’s lunch were Child Safe of Saline County and the Mental Health Association of Saline County. Representatives from each organization gave a synopsis of what their work involves and who it assists.

Board member Heather Troth spoke about all agencies, in general, saying that although there are a lot of resources available in the community, there are still issues that need to be addressed.

“These incredible organizations that are funded through United Way all work independently, but ultimately together to make our community a better place,” Troth told the group. “I really think it’s amazing to be able to look at what these agencies do, and realize that while each one of them is addressing their mission and their particular issue, in the big picture, they’re all making our community a better place. … An investment in the United Way is a direct investment in our community and making it a better place as a whole.”

Another way United Way of Saline County reaches community members is by sponsoring the Dolly Parton Imagination Library for children in the county. This program provides a free book each month for children from birth to 5 years old.

“If the parents would sign these children up when they’re born, until they start kindergarten, they should have 60 books of their own,” United Way Executive Director Mary Ann Gilpin said.

The program is paid for by funds gifted from a family estate. It is kept separate from campaign funds directed toward member agencies.

“(They) have two separate banking accounts,” Gilpin told the crowd. “Please promote that so those children have those books. … We’re not only helping children, but we are helping parents, grandparents and siblings. And some of the books do come in Spanish.”

Gilpin stated that 306 kids received books this month, at a cost of $669. Donors can contribute to the program by writing a check to United Way of Saline County and noting “Dolly Parton Imagination Library” in the memo line.

The United Way of Saline County set a goal of raising $75,000 this year. It can be reached by calling 660-886-4959.

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