United Way celebrates

Published 9:55 am Thursday, February 17, 2011

United Way celebrates raising almost $600,000

The United Way of Freeborn County held a lunch and open house to celebrate the 2010 Live United campaign on Wednesday.

The organization raised the second-highest amount of money ever at more than $596,000; the goal was $650,000. The event was a chance for United Way to recognize its board members, volunteers, agency members and campaign members.

United Way Executive Director Ann Austin speaks to the crowd at the 2010 Campaign Celebration. -- Scott Schmeltzer/Albert Lea Tribune

“To raise a total of almost $600,000 is an amazing feat,” United Way Board Chairman Chris Chalmers said.

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He said Freeborn County stepped up to meet the needs of others, and even though not all needs were met that every little bit helps. United Way Executive Director Ann Austin said sustainability was the key this year.

“Our community was stretched to the max and still were able to give,” Austin said.

Before the open house, the organization held its annual meeting. During 2010, the United Way of Freeborn County participated in various initiatives to promote community involvement.

It collaborated with other organizations to form Pioneering Healthy Communities, which addresses long-term health concerns in the community. It worked with the Drug Education Task Force to present long-term impacts of drug and alcohol abuse to area students.

It funded a prescription drug drop box for the community to dispose of unused medications. It distributed prescription drug discount cards throughout the community. It collaborated with Greater Twin Cities United Way and the Crime Victim’s Crisis Center to discuss how to end violence in the community.

The organization is exploring ways to end hunger in Minnesota and is honoring volunteers monthly. About 1,500 books were given to all kindergartners through second-graders in Freeborn County.

In 2010, more than 2,100 donors contributed to the campaign. Through workplace campaigns, almost 1,500 people donated and raised more than 60 percent of the total campaign. There were more than 500 new donors and more than 150 businesses participated in the campaign.

The following people and businesses received recognition at the celebration:

Community builders awards

The top five giving companies in each division (based on employee number):

US Bank, Farmers State Bank, Independent Service Co., American Bank, Minnesota Freezer Warehouse, UPS, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, Security Bank, Motor Inn Co., Albert Lea Electric, Alamco Wood Products, Larson Manufacturing Co., Alliant Energy, Crossroads Trailer, Albert Lea Tribune, Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, Alliance Benefit Group, Streater, Shopko, Herberger’s, Albert Lea Select Foods, Albert Lea Medical Center, Innovance, Cargill and Minnesota Corrugated Box.

Employer participation awards

Companies in Freeborn County that had 100 percent employee participation in the 2010 United Way campaign:

Adams & Winter, Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, Alliance Benefit Group, American Bank, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, Home Federal Savings Bank, Independent Service Co., Security Bank, The Children’s Center and United Employees Credit Union.

Special recognition awards

Most generous employee campaign: Albert Lea Select Foods, where employees gave more than $95,000.

Advocate awards

Advocate of the year: Carlton Frank

Volunteer awards

Volunteer of the year: Jeff Strom

Live United Award: Albert Lea Medical Center

Helping Hands Award: Ted Eggum, Sandra Fleming