Business/Nonprofits / Metro

Students play bigger role in United Way Campaign

Salvation Army Major Owen L. Thompson Jr., of Mount Pleasant, talks to students during a tailgate fundraiser hosted by United Way of Isabella County on Saturday afternoon outside of Kelly/Shorts Stadium. (Daytona Niles/Staff Photographer)

Salvation Army Major Owen L. Thompson Jr., of Mount Pleasant, talks to students during a tailgate fundraiser hosted by United Way of Isabella County on Saturday afternoon outside of Kelly/Shorts Stadium. (Daytona Niles/Staff Photographer)

United Way began its annual fundraising campaign to raise money for the Mount Pleasant community with a tailgate outside of Kelly/Shorts Stadium before the football home opener on Saturday.

A large part of this year’s campaign, which raises money for the Mount Pleasant community, will depend on Central Michigan University students, said CMU Student Campaign Chair Andrew Brown.

Brown, who joined United Way last year as part of a class assignment, introduced Dance United – a dance competition – to the organization. He will now be in charge of the event that helps bring in a large piece of its $450,000 fundraising goal. So far, the organization has raised 12 percent of its projected goal.

“This year, they’re starting to want to get more students involved,” Brown said. “So they created a student campaign position to kind of oversee.”

Brown will be in charge of both the fundraising and planning committees within Dance United and is confident the event will run smoother the second time around.

According to United Way Executive Director Tom Olver, having a student campaign chair should help increase student involvement within the organization.

“Dance United certainly opened the door in creating a new level of student engagement in the campaign,” Olver said.

Students have been involved in giving to United Way since the 1950s, Olver said, but having a more definitive role should boost engagement even more.

The United Way Community Campaign has been put on every year since its inception. It’s the organization’s way of raising money to later pump back into the community through events.

“If students at CMU want to have a big impact on their community while they’re here, United Way’s a great way to do it,” Olver said. “The money that’s raised here stays here and it can have a huge impact on people’s lives.”

Besides financially giving to United Way, students are needed to volunteer their time with the organization as it carries out this year’s events. Dance United, the recent Stuff the Bus campaign and other endeavors will not be successful without the help of volunteers, Olver said.

CMU Campaign Co-Chair and communications professor Ed Hinck emphasized the importance of student involvement when it comes to fundraising.

“Students are generally very motivated, compassionate and caring about others,” Hinck said. “Becoming more aware of what United Way does in the way of addressing local community needs gives them an opportunity to make a real difference in this community but also makes them aware of the need for social involvement in their own communities.”

Students can get involved with United Way through several avenues. The organization works close with the volunteer center on campus and has helped to make these volunteer opportunities known.

Dance United takes place Nov. 7, allowing students the opportunity to contribute by donating $13 or more to the United Way Community Campaign. Upon donation, students are entered to win one of two gift cards to the CMU Bookstore or the Apple App Store.

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