United Way celebrates annual campaign

Published 10:13 am Thursday, February 23, 2012

Pictured from left are: Cody Hartman, Tiffany Hagan, Pat Gavle, Jackie Larson, Sue Berg, Annette Petersen, Susie Hulst, Jon Murray, Dawn Schroeder, Charles Newton, Kayla Nelson, Dr. Mary Laeger-Hagemeister, Rella Loyd and Kelly Goskeson. -- Submitted photo

The United Way of Freeborn County held a lunch and open house to celebrate the 2011 Live United campaign on Feb. 15.

The organization raised just over $600,000; the goal was $661,000. The event on Feb. 15 was a chance for United Way to recognize its board members, volunteers, agency members and campaign members.

“It was wonderful to have everyone together in one room to celebrate the community’s effort,” United Way Executive Director Ann Austin said. “It takes everyone together to accomplish the tasks we did in 2011.”

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Before the open house, the organization held its annual meeting. In 2011, the United Way of Freeborn County participated in various initiatives to promote community involvement like Pioneering Healthy Communities, where it worked with local volunteers to complete the mural project on the Culligan Water building in Albert Lea.

The United Way also worked with community members to help with projects that promote awareness of local hunger issues, expansion of the debit card program at the Albert Lea Farmers Market and increasing local food supplies and usage of local food programs.

The Drug Drop Box located at the Freeborn County Courthouse collected more than 208 pounds of unused prescription medications and narcotics in 2011, and the United Way helped get the drop box up and running.

The United Way also launched a website, Volunteer Freeborn County, which features volunteer efforts, a Volunteer of the Month and opportunities for local people to volunteer their time.

In 2011, more than 2,500 donors contributed to the campaign. Through workplace campaigns, almost 1,900 people donated and raised more than 60 percent of the total campaign.

There were 680 new donors, and almost 200 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):

Alamco Wood Products, Albert Lea Area Schools, Albert Lea Electric, Albert Lea Select Foods, Alliance Benefit Group, Alliant Energy, American Bank, Cargill Meat Solutions, Cedar Valley Services, Crossroads Trailer, Farmers State Bank, Freeborn County employees, Freeborn-Mower Cooperative Services, Herberger’s, Independent Service Company, Innovance, Larson Manufacturing, Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea, Minnesota Corrugated Box, Minnesota Freezer Warehouse Company, Mrs. Gerry’s Kitchen, Security Bank Minnesota, Streater, United Parcel Service and US Bank.


Employer participation awards

Companies in Freeborn County that had 100 percent employee participation in the 2011 United Way campaign:

Albert Lea Family Y, Albert Lea-Freeborn County Chamber of Commerce, Albert Lea Economic Development Agency, Alliance Benefit Group, American Bank, Community Technologies & Services, Farmers State Bank, Home Federal Savings Bank, Independent Service Company, Power 96 and KQAQ AM, Security Bank, Senior Resources of Freeborn County and United Employees Credit Union.

Top seven businesses who increased campaigns more than 7 percent:

Cargill Meat Solutions, Innovance, Larson Manufacturing, Mrs. Gerry’s, Streater, Ventura Foods, Farmers State Bank.

Most increased employee campaign:

Mayo Clinic Health System in Albert Lea with an increase of $5,451.

Most generous employee campaign:

Albert Lea Select Foods, with employees giving $101,000.


Advocate awards

Advocate of the year: Mary Laeger-Hagemeister.


Volunteer awards

Volunteer of the year: Jane Knutson.

Live United Award: Innovance.

Community partner: Ryan Applegate.