The United Way of Buffalo and Erie County has set a record campaign goal of $19.1 million. The drive, which supports hundreds of community agencies, will continue through Oct. 29.
The goal, which represents an increase of $530,000 from last year, was announced this morning in the Town Boys and Girls Club in the Town of Tonawanda, which is funded, in part, by the United Way. This year's theme is "Lives Change When a Community Cares."
"This is a very generous community, and I am confident that the community is up to this challenge to make this a complete success," said Muriel A. Howard, president of Buffalo State College and general chairwoman for the campaign. Last year's effort exceeded its goal by $204,986.
Ms. Howard noted that additional funds are needed this year for numerous programs, including:
The food distribution and food pantry system for needy families and individuals, including the Food Bank of Western New York.
Shelters for victims of domestic violence and at-risk teens.
Success by 6, United Way's early-childhood initiative, which helps provide health care, nutrition and quality child care for families with youngsters.
Expansion of the United Way Family Support Centers and after-school programs.
Services for people with disabilities to help find jobs and improve their quality of life.
Ms. Howard, who heads a force of nearly 5,000 volunteers, offered special thanks to the volunteers from 359 companies who took part in the annual United Way Day of Caring Aug. 18, which marked the start of the campaign.
"I'm very impressed with the number of enthusiastic United Way volunteers who came forward to help our community's cause with this campaign," she said. Ms. Howard also has marshaled hundreds of volunteers on her campus to help the campaign, including a campaign steering committee, a special survey, class projects and special thank-you cards and recognition awards created by faculty and students.
The Town Boys and Girls Club, established in 1942, features a wall-length mural painted last March by volunteers from the United Way, the club, Buffalo State College, Voice Technologies Group and Creative Concepts of Western New York.
The mural, designed by Associate Professor Lin Xia Jiang of Buffalo State College and graduate student Kim Van Norman, depicts local landmarks and the club's guiding principles of adults working with youngsters in a positive, supportive environment.