Things will be different this year when United Way of Douglas County leaders announce the official start to their 2010 campaign.
Instead of an invitation-only event as in the past, leaders will use a public kickoff carnival Thursday in South Park to try to set a new tone.
“Our hope is to build awareness about the United Way’s 2010 campaign, to be more public, to be more visible, and to be more inclusive of all of Douglas County,” said Beverly Smith Billings, the 2010 campaign chairwoman.
The kickoff carnival begins at 5:30 p.m. It will feature live music, games, Kansas University’s Baby Jay and an inflatable “bounce house” for the kids. Hy-Vee will provide free hot dogs and chips, and free “Live United” T-shirts will be given to the first 500 guests.
Renowned artist Stan Herd will direct a large group photo of everyone wearing “Live United” T-shirts.
“We want to make it fun and family-friendly and really put some fun into the campaign,” said Colleen Gregoire, a United Way vice president and campaign director.
The campaign raised $1.76 million for area agencies last year.
Campaign leaders will announce their goal for this year during Thursday’s event. And they will detail fundraising that already came in through last spring’s Kansas University’s 2010 Rock Chalk Revue and the pacesetter campaigns at certain organizations and businesses.
Billings said leaders are focusing on overall participation in this year’s campaign.
“We’re hoping that more people will give, but in asking more people to give, we’re emphasizing that every gift is important,” she said. “No matter how big it is or how small, it doesn’t take a whole lot to make a difference.”
In case of rain the event will move to Abe and Jake’s Landing, 8 E. Sixth St.