United Way smashes fundraising goal

March 21, 2019

STERLING – There were plenty smiles and hearty handshakes at the annual United Way of Whiteside County celebration luncheon – and with good reason.

The agency soared past its fundraising goal, raising $45,000 more than the $775,000 it had hoped for when the campaign kicked off last year.

Kevin Anderson, campaign chairman, proudly revealed the final total of $820,244 Wednesday to about 200 people representing many of the businesses that donated that money.

Now he has to do it again: Anderson announced he also will lead the next fundraising campaign.

“Yes, it’s a tremendous accomplishment, but we already have to think about next year,” he said.

I’s gratifying to see that so many businesses continue to help support the agency financially, said Sara Dail, United Way board president.

“We’re proud of where we are, and we now have 33 programs and agencies (that receive funds),” Dail said.

A few of those agencies had representatives who spoke on how important the United Way funds are to keep their programs and services going.

Fiona Cummings, CEO of the Girl Scouts of Northern Illinois, talked about some of the wonderful things a few members have done for the Scouts.

“Some started a giving garden where they got to learn how to raise vegetables and then donated them to local food pantries,” Cummings said. “Others collected socks, hats and gloves to give to the needy.”

Another portion of the United Way funds goes to April House in Morrison, which helps investigate reports of child abuse and assists the victims with emotional support as they tell their story.

“We actually celebrate when the phone rings, because that means a child has the courage to come forward and tell their story,” said Carrie Melton, its executive director. “Child abuse does happen here, and April House allows us to give kids a voice.”

Diana Verhulst, CEO of the United Way of Whiteside County, understandably was thrilled with the campaign’s fund total but said more work lies ahead.

“We celebrate smashing the lid off of our funding goal,” Verhulst said.

“But there are many challenges ahead, and we need to meet them. Today, it’s about you and the changes you make in our community.”