It's not your grandparents' United Way anymore. To be sure funding sources that provide the lifeblood of support for the vital human services associated with the local organization have taken on a life of their own in recent years.
Today's Lycoming County United Way traces its roots back to 1922, when community leaders founded the Williamsport Welfare Corp. Its purpose was to establish a one-time public fundraising effort that could meet the demands of human service organizations responding to public needs. The proliferation of charitable organizations and the complexities of the constituents they serve have transformed the process into what LCUW officials believe is a much more efficient way to match contributor's dollars with community needs.
"No one non-government entity is in a position to be the sole funder for the many vital human service programs that are operating in Lycoming County," said Scott N. Lowery, LCUW executive director. "Our United Way is responding to the needs of 40 human service programs, their importance to the community identified by periodic surveys conducted here locally.
Volunteer Diane Stine fills baskets with a few of the prizes to be won at basket bingo next Sunday.
"We've identified five critical community needs areas; nurturing our children, serving those with special needs, caring for people in crises, supporting our seniors and strengthening our families. With the contributions we receive and the cooperation of those programs we are able to fund lives are improved and special initiatives are formed that get to the heart of problems and create lasting changes right here at home," Lowery added.
"More than 60 percent of the contributions we receive come from work place employee campaigns," Lowery noted. It is heartwarming, even in difficult times like we are going through, to see the initiatives taken by employee groups to help raise funds. In the past few weeks, Larson Design Group gave employees the opportunity to throw pudding pies at members of the management team, Wegmans had a checkout promotion, which raised $5,900, and several other businesses conducted dressdown days and held various raffles."
Adding to the fundraising ingenuity is the second annual basket bingo first staged last year by three generations of local women who volunteered their combined talents by planning a special fundraising event. Thanks to Diane Stine, her mother Evelyn Free, her daughter Tanya Frey and her daughter-in-law Kaitlyn Twigg, the second basket bingo will be held at 1 p.m. Sunday at the Old Lycoming Township Fire Hall. All proceeds go to Lycoming County United Way.
"I thought it would be a fun way to raise funds for a great cause. Bingo players can win current and retired Longaberger prizes with values up to $200 and enjoy an afternoon out with refreshments, door prizes and other games of chance," Stine said. "The baskets will be generously filled with donations from local businesses and friends of United Way, too."
"This is the second year Diane has taken the lead to organize a basket bingo. It went extremely well last year and we had lots of positive feedback from our guests," said Kate Pacacha, director of resource development and communications for LCUW.
Stine has volunteered with United Way in many capacities over the years and Free has volunteered with United Way previously in the employee campaign. This is Free and Twigg's second year of helping to plan basket bingo.
"I want to help United Way because of all the good things they do for children who have disabilities," Free said. "It makes me feel good to know that the donation you give to United Way goes to the people who really need it. United Way shows the community exactly where the money goes."
Frey said she is glad to help her mom plan the basket bingo event as a great way to give back to the community.
"And I got involved because I felt I should be volunteering some of my free time to help others," Twigg said. "I like United Way because it donates to many different programs in the local community."
Advance bingo tickets are available for a $20 donation at the United Way office at 1225 Clayton Ave. in Loyalsock Township. Tickets at the door the day of the event are $25.
"Tickets can also be purchased from United Way board members and bingo planning committee members," added Stine, who can be reached at 433-4757 for tickets or more information.
There will be 20 regular games included with the ticket purchase. There also will be five special games available the day of the event. Doors open at noon with an early bird special game at 12:45 p.m.
"I enjoy helping United Way because it supports many essential human service programs in the county. Some of them could not operate without funding from United Way. Helping multiple programs with one event is a fun way to do something good for our neighbors, and a great way for our family to give back to the community," Stine said.
"We truly value the time and effort Diane and her family have put into this event. Without dedicated volunteers like them, we would not be able to do what we do," concluded Pacacha.
For more information on Lycoming County United Way, call 323-9448 or visit www.lcuw.org.