The goal: $1.8M
Douglas County United Way made a goal of raising $1.8 million this year, which is $100,000 more than the campaign raised last year.
“It will be a challenge to achieve, but we believe that the community steps up when the need is great,” Dvorske said.
Vehicles wrapped around the Free State High School parking lot Sunday afternoon as needy Douglas County families waited for hours to receive free meals as part of the United Way Great Start Pack, which served as the United Way 2012 Campaign Kickoff.
United Way President and CEO Erika Dvorske said the agency wanted to make the kickoff celebration more of a service event.
“We wanted to bring both the resources in the community and the needs and match them up to address them,” Dvorske said.
More than 400 volunteers signed up through United Way to help package food, direct cars and hand out meals with Just Food, a local food bank, during the three-hour giveaway.
Volunteers packed 40,000 meals to give to low-income residents of Douglas County and distributed 15,000 of the meals to about 600 families.
Some families lined up at 11 a.m. and waited as long as four hours to get the packaged food.
“It was a reminder that this is important and people need help,” Dvorske said.
Meals included soy-protein infused macaroni and cheese, as well as donated items like sweet potatoes, tomatoes and canned foods. The leftover meals will be distributed to Just Food’s 42 partner organizations.
“There are people who didn’t know what they were going to eat tonight who are going to go home and eat what we packed today,” Just Food CEO Jeremy Farmer said.
United Way focuses on three areas in the community: education, health and self-sufficiency, and not going hungry contributes to success in each area.
Dvorske said improvement in these areas is impossible without the community and that all people have some amount of time, energy or money to contribute to those in need.
“If we (the community) are going to do this, it’s going to take all of us, and everyone’s got something to give,” Dvorske said.