Live United: Businesses stepping up to support the United Way

Published 8:45 pm Friday, September 30, 2022

Live United by Erin Haag

I always knew this fact, but I’ve been seeing it illustrated loud and clear in the past week. Small businesses support United Way and the work we’re doing in the community. On Oct. 14, at our Casino Night Fundraiser, we’ll be having a silent auction. Heidi and Nikolle set out this week to meet people, to request items for donations, and the welcome they’ve had has been nothing short of amazing. Not only do we have some beautiful items to auction off, but we’ve heard stories of past involvement in United Way, serving on boards, committees or even just remembering past fundraisers. All were excited to hear about the Casino Night.

Erin Haag

Consider this your personal invitation. We have tickets on sale right now at the Albert Lea YMCA, the CVB and of course at our office. Generally, we’re here 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., and if you call ahead, we’ll make sure someone’s here. Often when we’re gone, it’s because we’re out serving the community. 

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Is there something you’d like to contribute as well? We’re actively collecting items for our auction and would welcome items to add to a basket, a handmade craft that you have. My daughter has requested that she be able to create a painting. She’s also wondering about if she can auction off eggs from her chickens. So there’ll be a healthy mix of retail items, handmade items and even some baked goods available.

Speaking of the coat drive, those boxes are getting out there! We’ve got a pretty full roster of locations. You’ll find boxes out this weekend at the following places: Good Steward Consulting, Hyvee, Northbridge Mall, Plymouth Shoe Store, St. Theodore’s, Bomgaars, Shoe Sensation, Walmart, Whimzy, City Arena, Senior Center, Albert Lea Y, Hubbard Agency, Alpha Orthodontics (Skyline Plaza), Albert Lea Tribune and more. The full list will be updated at our website by early next week, or you can always call our office to find the place nearest to you. We’ll also be adding the Winter Gear Community Distribution Dates, which start on Nov. 5.

A few people have called and expressed worry about people needing coats now. You’re absolutely right, and we’ve been filling those needs. Just last night, I received a message about a woman who has girls, and would like to donate girl coats to us — but she needs a coat for her upper elementary son. Yep, we’ll get that taken care of right away! 

Nikolle and I met with the Mental Health Collaborative this week, which included staff from Department of Human Services and school social workers. It was great to meet some new staff members joining in and to see some familiar faces. We discussed 2-1-1, Welcome Pantry and the Winter Gear Drive, ensuring that they knew about not only the resources that United Way can provide, but the flexibility in thinking outside the box to get what their clients need. This type of direct referral is available to them year-round, and we’ll pull winter coats out of storage any time there’s a need. There was a comment made about the beautiful handmade quilts and baby blankets that our area quilters bring, and lots of smiles and nods were happening. 

It’s been a busy week, so busy that we had to really carve some time out for a piece of company culture important to us: Celebration of each other. Nikolle’s birthday was last weekend, and we attempted to celebrate on Monday morning. She opened her gift, we did a picture, but we chose to eat her cake at lunchtime. Then we were busy, so then we said Tuesday. Well Tuesday turned into Thursday, and I announced we were eating cake for our mid-morning snack. 

With all this busyness, I hope you’ll take them time to keep up with what we’re doing. We’ve got lots of things happening and even more in the works that I hope to be announcing soon! As always, call our office to learn more at 507-373-8670. We’re never too busy to talk — it’s one of our favorite things. We just might offer you a piece of birthday cake while we talk. 

Erin Haag is the executive director of the United Way of Freeborn County.