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United Way campaign leaders stress fun while making a difference

Media Contact

Lindsey Hadlock

Campaign co-chairs Pat Wynn, executive director of Campus Life Enterprise Services, and Rick Burgess, vice president for facilities and campus services, are keen on generating campuswide involvement among faculty, staff and students.

Expect a dynamic and intense Cornell United Way campaign this year.

Campaign co-chairs Pat Wynn, executive director of Campus Life Enterprise Services, and Rick Burgess, vice president for facilities and campus services, are keen on generating campuswide involvement among faculty, staff and students.

Their enthusiasm for the United Way will be apparent at the Cornell campaign kickoff celebration, Sept. 27, 4-5:30 p.m., in the Willard Straight Hall Memorial Room. The program will offer free food, music and entertainment to celebrate the university’s community engagement and to encourage participation in the campaign. “We want this to be a truly festive occasion for all students, faculty and staff members who care about making a difference in the campus and local communities,” said Wynn.

Working with the campaign’s planning committee, Wynn and Burgess are continuing with the shortened campaign schedule instituted last year, ending the formal campaign before winter break. “Our supporters appreciated the focus on giving to the United Way during the fall months, before year-end,” said Burgess. “It allows us to build momentum and intensify our outreach.”

They also are clarifying the roles of United Way unit directors to help them know where to focus their efforts and how to enlist the help of others in involving their college or unit in the campaign.

“Unit directors – formerly called ambassadors – should feel confident about asking each other and their co-workers for support with organizing an event or a gathering, doubling up with other events that bring their units together, or talking with colleagues or co-workers about giving to the campaign,” said Wynn. “People need to have fun and feel they are contributing to something that will make a real difference.”

Wynn and Burgess stress the human side of giving. “We value every donation of every size. We are all part of the community, and we all have a chance to make it better,” said Burgess.

Every gift by a Cornell student, faculty or staff member goes directly to support agencies and programs locally and in communities of the donor’s choice. Contributions by individuals at Cornell make up about 40 percent of the county’s United Way support each year.

Wynn noted that the United Way can help meet a wide range of needs in the community, making a big difference for those facing emergencies or extreme hardship, while also supporting specific agencies, area food pantries or community councils; United Way special initiatives; or any IRS-approved charitable organization of the donor’s choice.

The official kickoff of the 2018-19 Community Campaign will be Sept. 18, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., when the United Way of Tompkins County celebrates its 22nd annual Stephen E. Garner Day of Caring at Stewart Park’s large pavilion. Open to the public, the Day of Caring will offer a formal program at noon.

The Day of Caring also is the culmination of a communitywide drive to collect nonperishable food, personal care items and school supplies to benefit local residents. This year’s Day of Caring will include a “food challenge” between a handful of teams, chosen on a first-come, first-served basis. These organizations will compete to see who can donate the most, based on weight. Cornell already has been accepted as one of those teams, and boxes are being set up around campus to gather donations up through Sept. 17 at 5 p.m.

Donations also can be dropped off at the United Way of Tompkins County, 313 N. Aurora St., Ithaca, through Sept. 17 and on the Day of Caring, Sept. 18, up through 3:40 p.m. at the Stewart Park large pavilion.

The Cornell United Way Campaign drive will conclude at the end of December.