United Way is under way

Published 9:33 am Friday, September 12, 2008

Freeborn County United Way leaders, along with other leaders around the community, officially kicked off the 2008 Live United campaign Thursday morning at the Albert Lea Inn.

Ann Austin, executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County, said the kickoff included a breakfast with speakers and entertainment, and an introduction of the theme for this year’s campaign.

It also marked the start of the drive for the 2008 goal of $592,000, an amount that is $30,000 more than in 2007.

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“Because of the economy we know it’s going to be difficult to reach that need,” campaign Co-Chairwoman Sue Berg said. “But because of the economy, more people are going to have to use the services, so it really is a need.

“The people who can give, we’re hoping they can give a little bit more.”

Starting Thursday and going through the end of the year, the United Way will be educating the public about its services in the county and seeking donations for the campaign in an effort to reach the goal.

Berg and her daughter, co-chairwoman Tiffany Hagan, and others, will soon be traveling to many businesses in the county to spread the word.

“It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future,” Berg said. “Together we can accomplish more than any single group can on its own.”

Sept. 20: Lube-A-Thon at Hanson Tire. People can come in and get their oil changed, and then all of the proceeds go to the local United Way.

Oct. 11: Giving Your Best Family Fair at Northbridge Mall. United Way agencies will have booths set up, and families can bring their children to look at the booths and participate in other games and activities. There will be a fee to get into the building. The event goes from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Nov. 7: Wine tasting event at the Ramada Inn. More details will be announced as the time approaches.

Nov. 21: Keep the Fires Burning near the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce.

Dec. 7: Bowl-A-Thon family fundraiser at the Holiday Lanes.

The message, which goes hand-in-hand with the campaign theme — Live United — is also the United Way of America’s theme this year.

It is about raising up everyone in the community — not just a few people — and helping them to become connected, Austin said.

“There are people who are doing really well in their lives but maybe don’t feel that connection,” she said. “I think it’s important to have that connection to each other.”

People can get involved by examining themselves and seeing in what way they can live united, Austin said. They can ask themselves what they want to give the community and where they want the community to go.

“The more people who speak up and talk about their beliefs and their desires, the better we’re going to be able to meet the needs here and make a difference in everybody’s lives,” Austin said.

Living united is an invitation to advance the common good by focusing on three areas: education, income and health, Berg said.

Everyone needs to work together — whether it’s giving money, volunteering to do something for an agency or a neighbor, or advocating for the United Way, she said.

“What it means to me is all of us trying to help everyone else,” Hagan said.

The women said they look forward to going around and meeting with people in the community.

Upcoming events include a Lube-A-Thon at Hanson Tire on Sept. 20, the Giving your Best Family Fair at Northbridge Mall on Oct. 11 and the wine tasting at the Ramada Inn on Nov. 7.

The Keep the Fires Burning near the Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce building will be Nov. 21.

“We’ll be coming around,” Austin said. “People will see us all over the community.”

If people would like to get involved with the United Way or find out more information, they can call the United Way office at 373-9760.