HELENA — The United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area launched its annual fundraising campaign Tuesday with a “kickoff breakfast.”
The event had a pep rally theme, as the organization began its drive to raise $700,000 through the Community Giving Campaign. The West Mont Cheerleaders were on hand to pump up the crowd, as they raised an initial $7,500.
The United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area works with nonprofits around Lewis and Clark, Jefferson and Broadwater Counties, along with city, county and state governments. They focus on issues like homelessness and stable housing, health, education and financial stability.
“We provide a table where people can come together and collaborate on all the issues that are our focus,” said executive director Emily McVey.
Donors can either designate a specific nonprofit they would like their dollars to go to, or they can give it to the United Way’s Community Impact Fund. A community committee will then choose which programs will be funded from that fund.
The United Way also supports services like https://www.montana211.org/index.php, which connects people with community resources, and VolunteerHelena.org, which helps people find opportunities for volunteer work in the area.
Randy Riley, a Wells Fargo district manager and former University of Montana football player, said during Tuesday’s kickoff that the United Way had made a major difference in his life. He said United Way’s partner organizations helped out when he faced health challenges growing up and when his family needed additional support.
Riley said the United Way stands out because of how it brings people together, as “teammates.”
“Their ability to unify businesses, nonprofits, city and county governments and the community at large really has made all the difference,” he said. “The spirit of mutual help is something that keeps communities together, and it’s something that we should all keep in mind as we continue to move forward and we think about those that may not be in the same spots we are.”
McVey said the United Way of the Lewis and Clark Area has already secured about 10 percent of its fundraising goal for the year, largely through the support of local businesses. However, she said individual donors still play a major role. They plan to do fundraising in the Townsend, Boulder and Lincoln areas as well as Helena.
“The majority of our fundraising really comes from individuals in the community,” she said. “Really those individual donors are a huge part of making the United Way work and then funding all of the agencies that we work with in collaboration as well.”
You can find out more about the United Way, including ways to donate to the Community Giving Campaign, at their website.