In its attempt to contribute to the broader community, the Cornell United Way campaign has exceeded its goal of raising $660,000 to help those in need. According to Steve Golding, executive vice president for finance and administration, the University has raised over $700,000 so far, exceeding its goal by $40,000, or 7.5 percent. The campaign still has several more weeks before it closes on March 31.
“The United Way campaign is a national campaign to raise funds for agencies that provide services to people who are in need and who don’t always have the capacity to support necessary services,” Golding said. “The University supports a university-wide campaign to raise funds for the United Way agency.”
The 2006 fund raising efforts were especially unique because it marked the first time students participated in the campaign. Jonathan Feldman ’08, interfraternity council member, became the first student representative on the United Way cabinet.
“[Feldman] has had ideas for students. [He] has been terrific at organizing student activities,” said Sarah Thomas, the Carl A. Kroch librarian and chair of the campaign.
The first student-led benefit for the United Way was during the homecoming football game, when the Student Assembly, Class Council, Student Agencies– and the Greek Community subsidized free homecoming tickets.
“The students of these groups accepted donations from the attendees with all proceeds benefiting the United Way,” Feldman said.
According to Feldman, the next student fundraising event will be the first annual Greeks Conquer the Court. The Sports Marketing Group, athletics and the Greek community have partnered to support the United Way. A portion of the ticket sales and the fee to enter a halftime competition will be donated to the campaign.
“It will be a day to not only display our Greek pride and our Cornell pride, but will be a day to showcase our Greek membership, competitive spirit, and most importantly our commitment to philanthropy,” Feldman said.
When asked how effective the campaign has been in serving the needy, Thomas said, “I think it’s been very effective. We are at 106 percent of our goal. [We contributed] about 37 percent of the money raised in the county.”
Golding will succeed Thomas as chair when she steps down to leave for Oxford on Feb. 11. In the new position, Golding will seek to increase Cornellians’ participation in the United Way campaign “in recognition that a number of Cornell faculty, staff and students benefit from United Way agency services. … This would be a way for all Cornellians to help each other, as well as the citizens of Tompkins County.”
“One of my goals for next year’s campaign is to increase [this year’s] participation of 16.2 percent [student] employees to over 20 percent employees,” Golding said. He intends to do so by having it known that by “contributing to the United Way campaign, they are helping other members of the Cornell community. By their contribution, they are helping their peers.”
Feldman shares the same goal of increasing student participation.
“I am very much looking forward to participating in the campaign in 2007. I look forward to increasing the opportunities for undergraduates to participate in this most noble cause. I am currently in discussions with the other members of the cabinet to plan a major student event in 2007 to benefit the United Way,” he said.
When talking about her experience on the United Way cabinet, Thomas said, “It’s been very rewarding. It’s nice in this very busy world to think about other people — the humanity of other people.”
Feldman said that he appreciates how the United Way benefits organizations in the Ithaca community.
“It is great to support national causes, but there is a certain connection in embracing causes near in proximity and extremely tangible in nature. You can go downtown and see the children playing in the Greater Ithaca Activities Center or talk to the beneficiaries of advocacy and rehabilitation services,” he said. “I believe it is our duty as members of the Tompkins County community to invest both time and treasure to strengthening our neighborhood and ensuring that all members of our local family have the basic needs of food, shelter and clothing.”