ISU students make record donation

Briana Haguewood

This year, Iowa State students have contributed their largest donation to United Way of Story County’s annual campaign, according to President and CEO Jean Kresse.

This year, Iowa State students have raised a total of $10,560.81 for the cause, compared to $3,383 from the 2010 campaign, Kresse said.

“In these tough economic times, for students to give to others in this way is incredible,” Kresse said. “We are so grateful.”

Of this sum, $4,685.81 is made up of donations from Willow, Wallace, Wilson, Larson and Friley residence halls.

Iowa State’s Greek Community has also contributed to the cause, with a donation to United Way’s campaign of over $4,700, raised at the annual spring greek pizza luncheon.

Veterinary medicine students contributed $853, and various on-campus fundraisers presented a total of $228. Direct donations from Iowa State students totaled $75.

To encourage the university to go above and beyond for the 2011 campaign, College of Engineering Dean Jonathan Wickert and Vice President of Student Affairs Tom Hill, chairmen of the campaign on campus, announced that if the university raised $350,000 or 110 percent of its goal, they would each dye their hair cardinal and gold.

Wickert said that students and faculty are one part of the Iowa State campaign, as well as various academic colleges, business units, the greek community, residence halls and the Alumni Association.

Iowa State presented its check to United Way on Wednesday, Dec. 7. There was no word whether the chairmen were dyeing their hair.

Last year, United Way of Story County reached an annual campaign record total of $1,645,107, the largest amount the Ames organization has raised since its beginning in 1953.

It was announced on Nov. 23, the 2011 campaign has collected $1,616,678 or nearly 97 percent of its $1,675,000 goal.

Vance Watts, senior in communication studies, serves as a student representative and board member for United Way of Story County.

“I love being on the board,” Watts said. “It’s probably the best thing I’ve done out of all my experiences as a student. It’s something bigger than myself, I guess. It’s really opened my eyes to see how many people are in need in this community.”

Watts helped convert the annual greek pizza luncheon, part of the Greek Community’s yearly Greek Week celebration, to an event with proceeds benefitting United Way.

“The greek pizza lunch is something that all of the different fraternities and sororities can get together for,” Watts said. “A lot of people don’t know what United Way really does, so I guess as a student I’ve been trying to promote what it’s really all about. Students hear about United Way at football games, they see the boards and the thermometers around Ames, and they wonder what United Way does.

“When people want to donate money, they want to do something simple and easy. By donating money to United Way, your money is going to be spread to different organizations and go directly to where there’s need.”

Wickert said there is a team of volunteers doing grassroots work in departments and units, and pledge cards and packets have been distributed across campus.

“What many people don’t realize is that faculty, staff and students right here on campus, as well as folks all over the county, benefit from United Way services. The campaign that we have here on campus is a way to engage to people of Iowa State University in helping out United Way, and we’ve been doing it for years,” Wickert said.

“It’s something that I feel very strongly about — returning something to your community as best you can and making a difference. The need is very high right now, higher than it’s ever been. So I really wanted to be involved this year and help out,” Wickert said.

With the exception of pledges and gifts, there are other ways people are getting involved with United Way.

“For instance, the engineering college held a bake sale and book sale that was very well attended. Many departments have also created online auctions for people to bid on items, with proceeds going to the campaign,” Wickert said.

United Way is an organization that supports 92 human service programs in the Story County community. It affects more than 30,000 individuals and families, or one in three people of Story County, according to Kresse. Of the money raised in the annual campaign, nearly 99 percent stays local to programs in Story County.

“United Way has a mission that focuses on helping people, not raising money, which I think is what people think about when they think of United Way,” Kresse said. “I mean, we’ve got local thermometers the size of Pittsburgh out there so I can understand why.

“But when we talk about giving to the campaign, whether at Iowa State or anywhere in the community, we’re talking about our mission. It’s not just, you know, ‘Would you please give a dollar so that our logo thermometer can go up,’ it’s, ‘Would you please give a dollar so that you can support someone at the Emergency Residence Project,’ or whatever program it may be.”

United Way of Story County supports programs in the Ames community, such as the Ames Community Preschool Center, Arc of Story County, ChildServe, Emergency Residence Project, the Richmond Center, and Youth and Shelter Services. It works to assess local needs then collaborate with community partners to provide solutions. It funds programs and creates partnerships to utilize resources in the community.

United Way’s next step after the campaign ends is to hone in on the issue of hunger in the community, Kresse said. The Hunger Collaboration is one program developed by United Way. Members of this program will soon begin to recognize and develop what can be done to help increase food security for the hungry in the community.

Another upcoming project will be Toys for Tots, or the Live United Holiday Toy Drive. United Way has run a local Toys for Tots program in Story County since 2006. United Way will work with businesses to collect toys, and United Way partner agencies will deliver the toys to families that need them.

The Women with Initiative Program is a program recently created that is unique to the Story County United Way. Since its creation three years ago, the program has helped over 100 disadvantaged women learn basic financial skills in order to gain confidence and self-sufficiency. United Way coordinates with partner agencies such as ACCESS, MICA, Youth and Shelter Services, and the Emergency Residence Project to select women to participate in workshops.

“Here at United Way, we have the necessary connections with partner agencies to get in contact with people in need, and that’s what makes a program like this work,” said Angela Shippy, United Way’s Women with Initiative coordinator. “United Way really knows what the needs of the community are, and it has the resources to provide for solutions,” she said.