This Valentine’s Day, a local charity will provide another sweet way to show affection and love besides the typical exchange of cards and flowers.

The United Way of Santa Barbara County – a nonprofit volunteer-based organization that funds services such as job training, childcare scholarships and job training in Santa Barbara – will sell See’s Candies chocolate candy grams from Jan. 18 to Feb. 28 for $2 each in order to raise money for its local charity programs. This year, the annual campaign – which is themed “Make it Personal” for 2007 – has seen many UCSB students, faculty members and organizations pitching in to help the cause.

According to the United Way website, candy gram order forms can be filled out online at and submitted to different department representatives on the UCSB campus. The Political Science Dept. and the Women’s Studies Dept. are among several university organizations that have volunteered their services for this portion of the project.

In order for the candy grams to be delivered to recipients on Feb. 14, all payments must be made in cash or check by Feb. 5.

This year’s campus goal is $120,000, which consists of both charitable donations and candy gram sales. Last year the goal was $110,000.

Julie Rasmussen, special events coordinator at the university’s Office of Public Events, said in addition to purchasing candy grams, prospective donors can also give to the campaign by deducting a portion of their paycheck and having it automatically directed to the United Way.

“You can actually designate money to go to a certain community or project,” Rasmussen said.

Apart from the candy gram sales, the United Way has also partnered with UCSB to help put on the 2nd Annual Volunteer Day – slated for Feb. 10 – to benefit the Isla Vista Youth Projects and the Orfalea Family Children’s Center, two additional charitable organizations in the UCSB community. According to Joel Dinan, campaign executive for the United Way of Santa Barbara, the Orfalea Family Children’s Center is a nonprofit establishment located on UCSB’s West Campus that offers student, staff and faculty families licensed and accredited childcare services.

Last year, nearly 50 volunteers – consisting of both students and faculty members from UCSB – showed up to the event to lend a helping hand, Dinan said. This year, the organization hopes to attract even more volunteers, he said.

“We are hoping for a little bit more this year,” Dinan said.

Volunteer Day includes both indoor and outdoor tasks like painting, cleaning windows and general maintenance for program facilities.

“It’s a place where families that can’t afford day care can find a positive environment for their kids to learn,” Dinan said.
-Megan Snedden contributed to this article.