The United Way will kick off its annual fundraising campaign with a Sept. 13 event aided by a local Rotary chapter in Town Square in downtown Grand Forks.
Pat Berger, president and CEO of the United Way of Grand Forks, East Grand Forks and Area, said her organization is seeking a wide range of donations to benefit local food pantries as part of a larger focus on fighting poverty.
The title of the event—Stack the Stage—reflects its purpose of filling the square's stage with essentials.
"What we're asking folks to do, and businesses, too, is to start collecting items that will be distributed through the local food shelves," Berger said. "That can be canned goods, but also things like shampoo."
She also emphasized the need for diapers, which she described as an essential item that cannot be purchased with food stamps. Ultimately, Berger said, the purpose of the donations and the wider United Way campaign is to fight poverty.
Donors can drop off nonperishable foods and personal care items—such as deodorant, toothpaste and razors—with volunteers at the square between 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. on the day of the event.
While there, visitors can meet with representatives of agencies that receive United Way grants to carry out social programs throughout the area. Grand Forks Mayor Mike Brown and city leaders from East Grand Forks will deliver remarks at noon and, for those with the Potato Bowl on the mind, a baked potato bar will be open for the cost of a free will donation.
Erin Dickson, a member of the marketing committee for the local United Way, said the spuds themselves have been donated by Black Gold Farms, with toppings provided by Hugo's Family Marketplace.
Berger said the United Way raised more than $1 million last year in last year's fundraising cycle.
Monetary donations to the United Way can be made at its office, online at the organization's website or at the Stack the Stage kickoff itself.
Donors looking to skip the potato can hand off their items to volunteers from the recently formed Grand Forks Downtown Rotary Club.
Matthew Leiphon, president of the downtown Rotary chapter, said members of his group will attempt to make the donation process as convenient as possible with a curbside option to facilitate quick drop-offs.
Leiphon said his group had chosen poverty alleviation as a goal of its community service efforts. He said that focus, plus the United Way involvement of some of the Rotary chapter's members, led to the group lending its support to the kickoff efforts.
"Our goal is to complement what's going on in community already, because there's a lot of great things going on in Grand Forks," Leiphon said. "This sounded like a great opportunity, so what we will be doing is provide some volunteer muscle, helping people when they bring in donations, and showing up to show our support for Grand Forks working together to reduce poverty."
Leiphon encouraged anyone who was interested in adding on to that muscle to look at the group's Facebook page for more information or to contact him directly at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Source: Andrew Haffner (GF Herald online, 9/5/16)