This Thursday marks the start of the annual United Way charity fundraising drive, which aims to raise $150,000 for approximately 200 local programs.
University faculty and staff, United Way volunteers and local businesses will team up to raise funds for the associations sponsored by United Way in Santa Barbara, including the local Boys & Girls Club, the visiting nurse programs and the Isla Vista Youth Project.
UCSB Director of Business Services Pam Lombardo said the bulk of the money raised during the event will come from the personal contributions by staff members. She also said that volunteers from almost every university department will work to encourage their peers to pledge funds during the drive, which ends Feb. 29. In order to maximize participation, Lombardo coordinated with local businesses, many of which have donated coupons as raffle prizes for donors.
Among the campaign sponsors is Woodstock’s Pizza, which Lombardo said was particularly active in helping to promote the drive. Woodstock’s Director of Business Development John Francis said that when he and the owners of Woodstock’s learned about the fundraiser, they were impressed with the high level of participation by UCSB staff and faculty.
“When Pam [Lombardo] told us that nine percent of faculty were giving money from their paychecks for this cause, we asked if we could do more to help, too,” Francis said. “One of the weaknesses [of the event] is that faculty is participating and not really the students, and they may not even know about it.”
To raise money and increase student involvement with the United Way drive, Woodstock’s will host a fundraiser kickoff party on Tuesday, Jan. 22 from 5 to 9 p.m., during which time it will donate 25 percent of sales to the charity. Additionally, every Thursday during the event, $1 of every $5 purchase from its Arbor location on campus will go toward the charity.
United Way representatives will also set up booths nearby in the Arbor to offer students more information on ways they can help, Francis said.
According to Lombardo, the nearly six-week United Way campaign will also include a Volunteer Day, scheduled for Feb. 2, during which UCSB faculty, staff and students are encouraged to donate their time to the United Way-supported Isla Vista Youth Center.
In addition to coordinating with local businesses, United Way volunteers were working closely with the Office of Student Life to educate staff and students about volunteer and charity programs within the Santa Barbara community. OSL Assistant Director of First-year Programs and Leadership Education Miles Ashlock said he has served as a liaison between United Way campaign coordinators and the various departments of student life.
Ashlock said that in addition to driving faculty participation within departments, he was working to educate people on campus about the various programs United Way supports in the community.
“One of the most salient things [that attracts donators on campus] is United Way’s strong connection with the Isla Vista Youth Foundation, whose programs hit home for a lot of faculty and staff,” Ashlock said.
Ashlock described the IVYF as a “constellation of programs for youth living in Isla Vista” ranging from childcare services to health and parenting education programs. Ashlock said he hopes to organize a discussion of United Way’s various activities within the community at the upcoming Student Leadership Conference on Jan. 25.
United Way of Santa Barbara is a volunteer-run organization that has operated in Santa Barbara County since 1923. It supports various local programs focused on children, seniors, families and community building.