By Jim Krencik
Medina Journal-Register — The United Way of Orleans County set a higher goal this year than ever before, but community and corporate donations have already raised more than a third of the agency’s $325,000 goal less than two months after the launch of the 2013 campaign.
United Way of Orleans County Executive Director Lisa Ireland said Thursday that pledge cards from local businesses and individuals are already coming in to the agency’s office in Medina. That’s a promising sign in a time when the needs of the community are acutely felt.
”There’s an increasing need in all three of our core areas — health, income and education,” Ireland said. “People are hurting with the heating season and we’re actively involved with making sure there’s help at the holidays.”
More than $100,000 has come in, led by the donation of more than $52,000 by Baxter Healthcare’s employees and administration at the Oct. 4 campaign kick-off. Ireland said employees at Medina Memorial Hospital are working to raise $10,000; a figure employees at BMP America recently reached. Claims Recovery Financial Services in Albion is now upwards of $15,000; the Medina Central School District’s drive has increased by more than $1,000 over last year.
“Everyone has an understanding of the county’s need and are helping out,” said Ireland, whose role as the agency’s director has her frequently making presentations to the business community; as the president of the county’s Human Services Council she’s also working with the non-profit groups that benefit from the campaign. “We’re serving around 20 agencies, with new programs being added in January.”
Ireland said the campaign will continue well into next year, with an increase in donations in January as the payroll-tax deductions come in. Many of the larger organizations in the eastern half of the county run spring campaigns, a remnant of the pre-merger United Way in Orleans County.
”We look at it as a year-long campaign, constantly in the public eye,” said Ireland, who noted the joint efforts are already bearing fruit. “There’s no more duplication of time and energy in our efforts, and we can more easily assist our agencies. It’s been an amazing process.”
In 2013, the local United Way will add additional fundraisers — a disco bowling tournament is planned to go along with the annual golf tournament — and volunteer events, including the first countywide participation in the Day of Caring. That will help the United Way’s ultimate goal of getting those in need of help with basic skills and emergency assistance the support they need.
Donations to the United Way of Orleans County’s 2013 fundraising campaign can be sent to 534 Main St., Suite 17, Medina. For more information about the campaign and local programs funded by the campaign, call 798-5210, email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit www.orleansunitedway.org.Contact reporter Jim Krencikat 798-1400, ext. 6327.