Over the moon: United Way hits record target ahead of schedule

Campaign Chairman Richard Kelch had lot of help completing the target thermometer symbolizing a very successful United Way campaign at the Boys & Girls Club. From left are, front row, Laci Howe, 8, and her brother Christian, Howe, 9; next row up, Maddie Chatterton, Violet Chatterton, Lily Chatterton, Kylea Lanouette and Chase Moen; next row up, Kadence Moen, Derin Kocadagan, Claire Nantais, Ethan Strover and Emma Buller-Powell; and top row, Paris Stokes, Ashleagh White, Chelsea Slaughter and Katie Allison-Harding. Glenn Ogilvie

Cathy Dobson

Never before in the history of Sarnia-Lambton’s United Way has so much money been raised in one campaign.

The 2014 campaign has exceeded its $1,920,000 goal by $30,000, and jumped 1.5% ahead of last year’s results.

Not only is the goal met and exceeded it’s weeks earlier than usual, said executive director Dave Brown.

“Normally it’s Christmas week before we meet our goal.”

Brown explained the success of the 58th annual campaign, saying his staff of five did more presentations to more groups and boosted participation in a number of employee groups including teachers, Shell, Imperial, Suncor and CF Industries.

“A lot of corporate employee campaigns came in early with strong numbers,” said campaign Chairman Richard Kelch.

“I think people have a good understanding that their United Way donations are directed to local needs, and that the money is truly going to needs, not administration.

“It’s been refreshing for me to see how efficiently the United Way is run here. It’s a lean operation.”

Kelch and Brown made the announcement at the local Boys & Girls Club, where Kelch and some young helpers couldn’t colour in the final red square of the campaign thermometer fast enough.

“We feel very good about this,” Kelch said. “Sarnia is a very giving community.”

The $1,950,000 will be doled out to 22 local agencies and fund 35 programs and services for youth, families and seniors next year.

“Forty-five percent goes to youth programs like the Boys & Girls Club of Sarnia-Lambton,” said Brown.

The list of local United Way agencies serves countless residents ranging from clients at the Mental Health Association and Canadian Hearing Society to the Women’s Interval Home and the Learning Disabilities Association.

Brown and Kelch noted that Sarnia-Lambton residents gave more this year despite economic challenges.

“I haven’t heard of any other United Ways in Ontario that have met their goals yet,” Brown said.

When this year’s campaign kicked off with the Day of Caring in September, approximately 34% of the goal was already pledged.

“That’s a strong start and we just kept going,” said Kelch. “This is a wonderful achievement.”