United Way chapter raises more than $600,000

Published 5:00 pm Thursday, January 3, 2013

Wendy Skellenger, inventory analyst at Larson Manufacturing, counts money last week that was donated during a raffle fundraiser for the United Way of Freeborn County. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Freeborn County United Way officials announced Wednesday the organization raised almost $615,000 during its 2012 campaign.

Though it fell short of its goal of $660,000, the total donated is the second highest amount the organization has raised in any given year.

Shipping clerk Lori Starr, left, picks a card from inventory analyst Wendy Skellenger as part of a United Way raffle at Larson Manufacturing. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

“It’s always hard when you get the numbers in from the different campaigns, and some of them are down, but there are so many variables that people are dealing with,” said local United Way Director Ann Austin. “I just am very thankful for the community that we live in, for their willingness to step forward in many ways.”

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The total raised goes to support 29 programs put on through 16 agencies.

Austin said the goal of $660,000 was based on the need of the agencies requesting assistance. The last time the goal was reached was in 2008.

“Since then, things have been challenging because the need has been so high,” she said.

In 2011, the community donated about $600,000. The highest the organization ever raised was in 2009, collecting almost $616,000.

Austin said despite not reaching the goal this year, she thinks the confidence level is increasing among donors. Residential donors gave $4,000 more than what they have previously. Heart Club donors — or people who give more than $500 — also donated more.

Albert Lea Select Foods employees donated more than $100,000 — almost a sixth of the campaign — and other businesses are stepping up as well, she said.

Freeborn County United Way Director Ann Austin last week picks up money donated by Larson Manufacturing employees as part of a raffle fundraiser. -- Sarah Stultz/Albert Lea Tribune

Next, Austin said, the United Way board will decide how to appropriate the money received. Though some money may be able to be pulled from another fund within the organization to make up for the gap, it is likely the board will have to cut back on some of the requests by the agencies.

Looking ahead to 2013, she said she thinks the community has many opportunities it will face.

Austin said she has enjoyed seeing businesses move into the area or expand here and noted she thinks more people are collaborating to solve problems for the community.

“People are looking outside themselves to see how they can help build the community,” she said.”


United Way of Freeborn County by the numbers

2,816: people who gave to the 2012 campaign

387: new donors in 2012 who gave a total of $40,129

$135: average donation

134: number of people in the Heart Club (who donated more than $500)

$100,800: amount donated by Albert Lea Select Foods employees

42: number of corporate gifts

$614,821: total donated in 2012 to the United Way of Freeborn County

Agencies supported through the United Way

Adult Basic Education

Albert Lea Family Y

The Arc of Freeborn County

Catholic Charities

Cedar Valley Services

The Children’s Center

Community Technologies & Services

Crime Victim’s Crisis Center

Group Support Services

Healthy Families

Freeborn/Mower Habitat for Humanity

Parenting Resource Center

American Red Cross

Salvation Army

SEMCAC Community Action

Senior Resources of Freeborn County