October 18, 2005

C.U. Starts United Way Initiative

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The 2005 Cornell University United Way campaign is now in full swing and donations will be accepted across campus in the coming weeks.

President Hunter Rawlings kicked off the campaign alongside several faculty members and United Way agency leaders on Oct. 6 in the Duffield Hall Atrium.

Although the recent devastation caused by Hurricane Katrina has captured the attention of people across the country and on Cornell’s campus, the focus of the campaign is helping the needy right here in Ithaca and the surrounding Tompkins County.

The United Way of Tompkins County funds many local agencies, including the Alcohol and Drug Council of Tompkins County, the local YMCA and the Salvation Army. Although the United Way of Tompkins County is one of 1,400 United Ways across the country, all of the money donated through the campaign will be used locally at these agencies.

“We need to remember that there are many people – our friends and neighbors here in Tompkins County – who also need assistance,” said Charles Walcott, dean of university faculty and 2005 campaign chair, in a letter on the United Way website.

Although the county United Way is partnered with over forty agencies, individuals can opt for their donation to support particular organizations. This allows people to target their charity to those causes which they feel are the most important.

Also attractive to potential donators is the size of the donation that will actually reach human services organizations. The United Way of Tompkins County has very low administrative costs: 84 percent of the 2005 donations will be given directly to the non-profit organizations.

Campaign officials are hoping that the low administrative costs will increase the participation rate campus-wide. Last year it was 17 percent, with Cornell contributing one-third of the 1.8 million dollars raised by Tompkins County. This year’s campaign goal is $627,000. Those in charge of this year’s fundraiser are hoping for 20 percent of Cornell’s campus to participate.

While large donations are appreciated, Walcott stressed the importance of donations as small as a dollar per pay period for Cornell employees.

“A contribution of $1 per pay period can provide five days of ‘Meals on Wheels’ for one person, 50 lunches for low-income people at the Friendship Center or two round trips to the pediatrician’s office,” said Walcott.

Many influential people at Cornell will be closely involved with the campaign, including Elizabeth Rawlings, wife of Hunter Rawlings. She is this year’s chairwoman of the Livermore Society, a group recognizing individuals who donate 600 dollars or more.

Many students also plan to get involved.

“It seems like it will be a positive campaign. I’m looking forward to doing my part,” said Saurin Sanghvi ’08.

Students, faculty and staff can donate in the form of payroll deductions or direct payment through pledge cards. Interested individuals are encouraged to visit the United Way of Tompkins County’s website. For more information or to contribute, visit www.uwtc.org.

Archived article by Nate Lowry
Sun Contributor