United Way kicks off 2021 campaign with virtual service day

United Way of Clark, Champaign and Madison Counties will kick off their 2021 United Way Campaign today, according to executive director Kerry Lee Pedraza.

“This has been such an odd time for everyone, and we just really wanted to let people know that even though we have to be socially distanced, we can all still be united in service,” she said.

The campaign kicks off with a virtual day of service for the community to participate in from the comfort of their own home or office. For example, if you can’t deliver a meal, you could make notes to be put into them instead.

“Often times we think of volunteering as being things that you have to go out and specifically do, when some of the meaningful gestures are often some of the smallest kinds of acts, such as sending notes and lettering to vets," Pedraza said. “There’s just a lot of things that people can do from the safety of their own home and we’re just encouraging people this year to think about those things as we move into our campaign season.”

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Pedraza said the United Way was hopeful to have their regular, traditional day of service, but it had to be postponed due to COVID-19.

“So many of our nonprofits and parks in town depend on that outward show of force with volunteerism, so we don’t want to take away from that but also be responsible in what the constraints are that are being placed on us,” she said.

Pedraza added that the changes and challenges that COVID-19 presents has made them think outside the box.

“In times like this, it just becomes more important when you look at the things we have funded but you also look at the direct service we’ve been applying with United Way dollars and that’s everything from the 2-1-1 service to even down to the Dolly Parton Imagination Library," she said.

The United Way also began a COVID-19 Community Fund in March that has raised over $130,000 for Clark County.

“Those dollars are going directly for homelessness and utilities and food assistance, those three basics,” Pedraza said. “This year as part of our campaign, we have added a fourth category for people to choose to give to, and that is for those basic crisis services.”

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Here are some ways to get involved in the 2021 United Way Campaign:

Volunteer: Many organizations are in need of volunteers, including Second Harvest Food Bank or Meals on Wheels. To find one, visit www.uwccmc.org/volunteer.

Donate: Many non-profits are looking for items including cleaning supplies, food items and hygiene products. To find locations, contact the 2-1-1 Non-Emergent Community Helpline by calling 2-1-1 or 937-323-1400.

Give back while you shop: You can give back by choosing United Way as your supported organization through Kroger Community Rewards or AmazonSmile. To do so, visit your account page and select United Way.

Give blood: Local blood banks are in a shortage of supplies. To find a drive, visit www.donortime.com.

Send a letter to the troops: Support a service member by sending a letter. For instructions, visit www.supportourtroops.org/cards-letters.

Recycle: Collect recyclable items. For locations, visit www.ncowaste.org/Champaign_County.html, www.clarkcountyohio.gov/635/Recycling, or www.ncowaste.org/Madison_County.html.

Invest in the community: Invest by giving what you can to the campaign by visiting www.uwccmc.org/donate or text 2021UNITED to 44-123.

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