United Way raises $1.3 million in annual campaign, including $157K specifically for COVID relief

United Way of Cascade County announced Feb. 11 that it raised $1.3 million in it’s annual fundraising campaign.

The $1,325,148 includes $157,895 raised specifically to address COVID-19 Response and Recovery, and $1,167,253 that United Way will invest in community impact work and nonprofit programs that advance education, financial stability and health, according to a United Way release.

United Way dedicated money from its COVID-19 Response and Recovery fund to support local food pantries, address the needs of homeless people, provide rides for essential workers and people who use paratransit when the buses stopped and support the crisis line and 2-1-1 to address increased need for mental health and other services.

United Way also raised money for an effort called Essential Funds for Essential Needs that provided $500 checks to 300 local families who were impacted by COVID-19. The families had hours cut, medical bills, increased child care costs and even funeral expenses, according to a release.

“The community need will continue into the coming year, as many of the 33 nonprofit programs that United Way invests continue to see more demand and increased costs to deliver services. For example, Meals on Wheels is delivering 2,000 more meals to seniors every month and extra education support through the Boys and Girls Club is needed to help students catch up,” according to a release. “With the money raised in last year’s campaign, United Way helped 23,278 people through its grants alone.”

During its annual campaign, United Way volunteers reach out to area employers both to invite individuals to give and donate money on behalf of their companies.

Campaign volunteers set the goal of raising $1.3 million, 14 percent higher than last year’s total, according to United Way.

This year, more than 3,000 people gave to United Way, most donating less than $100 by taking a few dollars out of each paycheck to help their neighbors, according to the release.

Of the total, 58 percent was donated by 29 Pacesetters, employers who have committed their support to building the community through United Way of Cascade County.

The 29 pacesetters are: Anderson ZurMuehlen, Benefis Health System, Bison Ford, Cascade County, Centene Corporation, City Motor Company, City of Great Falls, Columbia Grain Inc., DA Davidson, Embark Credit Union, Energy West, FedEx, First Interstate Bank, General Mills, Great Falls College – MSU, Great Falls Public Schools, Hoven Equipment, Hub International, Montana Federal Credit Union, NorthWestern Energy, Pacific Steel & Recycling, Peak Health & Wellness Center, Scheels, Stockman Bank, Target, UPS, US Bank, Wal-Mart and Wells Fargo.

D.A. Davidson Companies, Calumet, General Mills, Great Falls Public Schools and Scheels ran the largest United Way campaigns.

Any local nonprofit can apply for funds this spring. A team of United Way volunteers decides funding by looking both at the community’s needs and the programs’ effectiveness. This year, 33 local programs receive United Way funding.

People still can send contributions directly to United Way at P.O. Box 1343, Great Falls, MT 59403 or donate online via their secure website at http://www.uwccmt.org.