United Way of 1000 Lakes Announces Year-end Challenge Match

As 2020 draws to a close, many of us are surely relieved that a new year is on the horizon. Throughout the past year, our community has faced numerous challenges. The pandemic has led to issues like rising unemployment and spiked food insecurity, as well as worsening existing issues like housing affordability, making this year’s United Way effort more important than ever.

To inspire community support for this year’s campaign, an anonymous donor has committed to matching gifts to United Way of 1000 Lakes’ Be the Light: 2020 Challenge up to $5,000. Through December 31st, all donations will be doubled, helping United Way get closer to its $20,000 challenge goal.

“The community’s support is critical to United Way and our nonprofit partners who work daily across the Itasca area to assist our neighbors with needs such as affordable child care, crisis navigation, and youth development,” stated Kim Brink Smith, executive director. “When you support United Way, you are helping fuel the work of more than 20 different organizations that address the varied, overlapping needs of a person.”

These nonprofits have been there through it all, assisting those who were already struggling as well as those of us who have had to seek help for the first time in a while, or perhaps for the first time ever. Housing organizations have helped families and individuals find emergency shelter and rent, mortgage, and utility assistance. Food shelves have worked tirelessly to ensure no one goes hungry, and schools and youth programs have cared for the children of essential workers who need supervision, support, and a safe place to spend their days. Crisis assistance advocates have helped survivors navigate the increase in domestic and sexual violence that comes from isolation and have been there for people dealing with mental health challenges created by loneliness. Organizations that work with older adults are finding new ways to connect with their clients while keeping them safe. From Bigfork to Hill City, Deer River to Coleraine, these nonprofits have been working every day to help our community through this crisis and towards a place where we can thrive.

These are just some examples of the work that United Way supports. In addition to co-founding the Community Response Fund to support COVID-19 relief, United Way works to sustain and strengthen community resources through its signature grants program. United Way distributes funds four times a year, most recently having issued $32,000 in grants to over a dozen local nonprofits. Funds raised through the 2020 Challenge will go towards the grants program, allowing United Way to continue funding nonprofit agencies that address the education, health, financial, and basic needs of people across greater Itasca County. 

Any dollar amount may count toward the matching gift challenge, and donations may be made in many forms, including: texting LAKES to 26989; visiting uwlakes.org/#donate; calling 218-999-7570; or mailing a check to United Way of 1000 Lakes at 350 NW 1st Ave., Suite A, Grand Rapids, MN 55744.

United Way will be posting progress toward the goal on various social media platforms, and on its website at uwlakes.org/be-the-light

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