Campaign season is here — no, not that campaign! — as Greater Mankato Area United Way’s annual campaign for regional programs reaches full swing.

At the start of October, we passed the 30% mark on our way to the goal of $2.06 million for 55 programs in Blue Earth, Le Sueur, Nicollet and Waseca counties. That means our region has already come together to raise more than $629,000 for our programs. It also means we still have more than $1.43 million to go to ensure these vital programs receive the funding they need.

“It really does take everyone coming on board each year to make sure these programs continue to keep our region strong and balanced through the pillars of basic needs, health and education,” explained United Way CEO Barb Kaus. Programs include Books for Kids, Open Door Health Center Integrated Clinic Operations, SMART Senior Transportation and others. See the full partner list at MankatoUnitedWay.org/agencies.

“With approximately 75% of our United Way’s annual campaign dollars coming from employee giving through payroll deduction, regional businesses are the foundation of our campaign — and they are rising to the challenge,” Kaus said.

More than 200 businesses, schools and other organizations in our region hold a United Way rally for their employees. Rallies give Kaus and other United Way staff the opportunity to build awareness of United Way’s work and ask employees to pledge. The rallies also spotlight our partner agencies, who share about the impact of giving to United Way.

In addition to rallies, many businesses have special events to support our United Way campaign, from beanbag tournaments and dunk tanks to tricycle races and penny wars.

For instance, in Le Sueur, Agropur employees come together during a Lunch and Learn session. In St. Peter, Gustavus employees can win prime parking spaces or even lunch with the president. In Waseca, Cinch employees host Bingo, a bake sale, denim days and more.

In Lake Crystal, TBEI is hosting everything from Minute-to-Win-It competitions to silent auction baskets. These types of creative activities help to not only increase community giving but also engage employees in teambuilding.

Businesses also get involved through volunteering with United Way. Each spring, more than 80 individuals from around the region serve on the Community Impact teams that review and vet all agencies applying for funding. Others donate time on committees or call on businesses on behalf of United Way. Businesses contribute sponsorships and in-kind donations as well.

The “Give Where You Live” concept is important to leaders and employees who want to know donations are being used wisely. Every dollar makes a difference, and 99 cents of every dollar donated stays in our region.

According to TBEI General Manager Brett Hart, “United Way offers our team members a simple, trustworthy method to make charitable contributions, and we have confidence knowing the money raised will impact the needs of people in our own communities.”

To learn more about employee rallies and other opportunities to support the region, please contact United Way at 507-345-4551.

Laura Murray is the communications and marketing director for Greater Mankato United Way, which covers Le Sueur, Nicollet, Waseca, and Blue Earth counties.

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