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Buffalo-area United Way sets goal of $14.5 million

The United Way of Buffalo & Erie County selected the West Side Bazaar as the setting Tuesday to announce its goal of $14.5 million.

The bazaar, located at 25 Grant St. – a vibrant marketplace selling exotic wares from around the world – is a prime example of the programs funded by the United Way.

“Our goal is again ambitious,” said Michael Weiner, United Way president and CEO.

“However, our community has demonstrated time and again that there is support for the United Way and the organizations we serve and an understanding that helping our neighbors benefits our entire community.”

The campaign last year raised $14.47 million, which marked the fifth consecutive year of increasing campaign results.

The campaign also gained 75 new workplace campaigns, had a 10 percent increase in the checkout scanning program and a 27 percent increase in the annual “Spring It On” fundraiser.

Tuesday’s kickoff also recognized the Westminster Economic Development Initiative, an agency that provides financial training, technical assistance and advocacy to struggling entrepreneurs. Many of its beneficiaries are located at the West Side Bazaar.

The United Way campaign will run through March 2016. Proceeds will support community programs and services that target education, health and wellness, and financial stability.

Business leaders and supporters were on hand to share their perspective on the organization’s continued impact and importance in the community.

Betsy Mitchell, board president of Westminster Initiative, underscored the importance of United Way support for her organization.

Weiner and campaign co-chair Susan O’Sullivan, vice president of sales at Ingram Micro, outlined the critical role played by United Way in the community.

Weiner noted the campaign’s stability over the years.

More than 45,000 individuals from nearly 900 local companies, labor unions and organizations are expected to participate in this year’s campaign.