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United Way kickoff: Campaign to begin with tailgaiting event

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lifestyles Dickinson, 58602

Dickinson North Dakota 1815 1st Street West 58602

The United Way of Dickinson is launching its 47th campaign with a football kickoff theme -- a tailgating party from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Thursday at Dan's Supermarket, North.

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"What's better than a kickoff theme," said Boyd Meduna, campaign chairperson. "We'll be selling brats, a Coke and chips for $2 and all proceeds go to the United Way. Everyone will have an opportunity to come."

Agency representatives will be on hand to visit about their programs, he said.

"Come and learn more about United Way. When I do make a donation, here's where my dollars are going. Here's what I'm supporting and really why I should support the United Way," he said.

This year's campaign goal is $282,000, which represents the requests of the agencies. To make the goal reachable, Meduna is places his faith in the community of Dickinson.

"It's always been a very strong community. Look at the events recently and how the community stepped up," he said. "There's lots of needs this year -- still plenty of tornado issues. We're looking at the community to step up one more time -- to invest in their community. Ultimately, Dickinson is a great place to live and that's why people live here. We know Dickinson will come through."

United Way Executive Director Jill Gregoire said the United Way campaign theme is "A Community United" and its mission is "United We Improve People's Lives."

The United Fund of Dickinson was organized in 1961 and the name changed to United Way of Dickinson in 1972.

"The purpose of the campaign for the donor is that they can make a single contribution to the United Way and be ensured that it is a local gift that will benefit many organizations," she said.

A donation supports four key areas of need -- assisting seniors and disabled, strengthening families, promoting self-sufficiency and nurturing youth. When agencies make a request for United Way funding, they complete a written application and go through a review in front of the United Way board, she said.

"If we don't reach our goal, they may not be funded 100 percent," she said.

The events surrounding a July 8 tornado in Dickinson have demonstrated how people have come together as community, she said.

The Red Cross shelter opened almost immediately. The Southwestern District Health Unit offered tetanus shots. The Eldercare program provided transportation for volunteers to the damaged communities. House of Manna sorted through the donations of clothing, household items and furniture. The West Dakota Parent and Family Resource Center offered counseling to parents whose children were afraid to go to bed at night.

"I would hate to see what would have happened during the tornado if these agencies weren't there. We need to support them," said Gregoire. "Open your heart. It's comforting to know the services are available when you need them."

The campaign wouldn't be possible without the support of the volunteers, she added.

"We always have hundreds of volutneers -- everyone who has scooped banana splits, all the board members, the packet volunteers, the division leaders," she said.

Donations can be made a variety of ways -- payroll deductions, cash donations, direct billing credit card donations or online giving (go to www.dickinsonunitedway.org and click on "give now.") Donations are accepted at any time of the year.

Any donor giving a gift of $200 or more qualifies for a collector cup, or any donor who increases a gift by as little as $1 per month or $12 over last year will receive a collector cup or coaster.

"We are asking for your help. Our partner agencies have asked for help from the United Way, so that they may continue to do important work in the community," she said.

Rodger Pearson is serving as this year's United Way board president.

He started as a volunteer when he moved to Dickinson.

"I felt it was a way to really get involved," he said. "The people are fantastic with their support for United Way and member agencies."

He credits the many volunteers for ensuring the success of the campaign. They often work behind the scenes, doing things the community doesn't see.

"It's getting to be that time of year when we can get together as one fund drive and make it very easy for people to help others in the community. That certainly is exciting," he said.

This year's honorary chairman is Del Quigley, who is available to speak to businesses that wish to learn more about United Way.

He said this year's campaign is as important as ever if not more important. In addition to families impacted by the July 8 tornado, families who recently moved to Dickinson also are having difficulty getting settled.

"Find a few extra pennies, nickels, dimes, quarters and dollar bills and send them to United Way," said Quigley. "The community has shown a good example by the amount of funds raised after the storm and the number of items donated, but the need doesn't go away. The storm was two months ago, but there's a lot of needs still out there."

Quigley also is hopeful that Dickinson will come together once again.

"It's something about the Midwest communities. We bind together. We don't depend on government help. We expect to solve our own problems. When we see family, friends or somebody, we just help them. We don't ask why," he said.

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