A couple of weeks ago, my niece from North Georgia got married, and I took some time off to spend an enjoyable week with family.
Of my three siblings, two live out of state, and it is hard for the four of us to get together as often as we would like to. Yet, when we do, it is non-stop laughing, teasing, reminiscing and, of course, eating. When we are together, it is always about the food! No sooner do we get done with one meal, we are planning the next. While I hate to admit it, my plate was always full and, given my new love affair with grits, I easily went up a few pounds that week.
After returning to work, it didn’t take long to realize that our “plates” at the United Way are full as well. Among our normal day-to-day stuff and preparing for the start of our annual fundraising campaign, we have two really big events this month.
Our “Christmas in July Drive for Feeding and Reading” is an exciting time for many of the companies who support our work and the needs of the community. For 30 years, the United Way has conducted a summer food drive to support the Weinberg Foodbank. We know that for many food pantries, the shelves are a lot lighter in the summer months and we also know that because school is not in session, many children who would normally have breakfast and lunch in school have less during the summer. Supporting the food drive is meaningful and all are welcomed to donate food items.
A couple of years ago, at the request of many companies who support our Poverty to Possibility Movement, we added a reading component to the drive. Monetary donations can be made to support the Dolly Parton Imagination Library so that age appropriate, high-quality books can get into the homes of more children, ages birth to five years old. Our partnership with Dolly Parton’s Foundation is one of our most important initiatives, and we are well on track to meet our goal of having 5,000 children enrolled in the Imagination Library by 2020.
In addition to Christmas in July, for the first time ever, we are holding a 5K race in downtown Wilkes-Barre on July 28. The race is the official 5K race of the Pennsylvania Keystone State Games, and we are very excited to host this event and the after party at Rodano’s. Runners, joggers, walkers and volunteers are welcome and appreciated. For more information about the race or Christmas in July, please go to our website at www.unitedwaywb.org or give us a call at 570-829-6711.
When I think about all that goes into planning and executing the challenging work of the United Way, I am grateful to our very committed staff, volunteers and donors. Millard Fuller, the founder of Habitat for Humanity once said, “For a community to be whole and healthy, it must be based on people’s love and concern for each other.” Those are pretty profound words and I truly believe they reflect the aspirations of the United Way.
By LIVING UNITED, we can all put our love and concern into action and help our community be more whole and heathy.
Now that I am back from vacation, I will need to exercise a little more and eat a little less, but my plate at the United Way will always be full. We do all that we do because the Wyoming Valley should be whole and healthy and all children of our community deserve to have full plates too. Their plates should always be filled with food, of course, but also with love, hope, potential and opportunity.
Your support of our events and the campaign helps make all that possible, and that is something I appreciate, even more than my sister’s grits!
Bill Jones is president and CEO at United Way of Wyoming Valley. He can be reached at 829-6711, ext. 1230.