United Way already at 41 percent of goal

There were kilt-wearing zombies, a Princess “United Way-to-go,” Doctor Who, Yoda, and, of course, a sparkly morph machine.

Though it would appear the mismatched characters were headed to a sci-fi convention, the United Way kickoff luncheon Tuesday was a creative twist for the official beginning of 2013-14 campaign in Mesa County.

Already this year, workers at 34 local companies and organizations that have been dubbed Pacesetters have contributed a combined $450,133. That amount is 41 percent of this year’s fundraising goal of $1.1 million.

Just two weeks after the fundraising drive actually began, workers at Grand Valley Catholic Outreach returned their pledge sheets, the first organization to return their donation promises.

“There’s dozens and dozens of stories we could tell, and frankly every one of them matters,” said last year’s campaign chairman, Jerome Gonzales, of the ways the organization helps by collecting funds for the needy.

Many of those stories are ones Gai Wildermuth-Gunter of the Community Food Bank sees every day.

As the sole employee of the food bank flanked by a number of volunteers, Wildermuth-Gunter told a number of stories about how the food bank has helped hungry people get through another day or week.

“Many families are struggling not only with the quantity of food but quality of food,” she said.

Additionally, 15 percent of people in Mesa County don’t know where they will get their next meal.

To put it in perspective, those 22,203 people would twice fill the grandstands at Stocker Stadium and the Grand Junction High School auditorium, she said.

“That might make you dig a little deeper,” she said about donating funds to ensure people have enough food to eat.

United Way collects funds to distribute to 30 nonprofit agencies in Mesa County. Donors can designate to have all their dollars go toward one entity. For more information and to donate, visit unitedwaymesacounty.org or by calling 243-5364.


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