Think of the 500,000 to 800,000 enthused Kansas City Royals fans who on Nov. 3 crowded downtown and the area around Union Station for the parade and rally for the 2015 World Series Championships.
The United Way of Greater Kansas City is hoping to convince people to relay some of that excitement to its efforts to get neighbors to help neighbors.
On Dec. 3, exactly a month after the human sea of blue flooded the town’s streets for the Royals, the United Way will have its victory celebration at Union Station to announce the campaign’s total. The goal is to top last year’s total of $35 million, which fell short of the $37.5 million raised in 2013.
“We’re in a crunch mode now,” Brent Stewart, president and chief executive of the United Way of Greater Kansas City, said of the campaign that kicked off on Sept. 9. Donations to the United Way finance about 170 agencies and about 300 programs.
Like the Royals’ come-from-behind post-season, these final days could mean a lot in efforts to fund programs for the four key areas of poverty, literacy, career readiness and well-being, which includes physical and mental health plus neighborhood safety. Fortunately, the vibe so far that United Way volunteers are feeling is overwhelmingly positive.
There are some encouraging stories out there.
They include the United Way campaign at the QuikTrip Corp. It’s one of 1,600 organizations that participate in the United Way push, attracting about 50,000 Kansas City area residents who give. At the QuikTrip distribution center in Belton, this year’s 2015 employee giving goal is expected to be a 412 percent increase over last year.
Mike Thornbrugh, a QuikTrip Corp. spokesman, said the company’s 3,200 Kansas City area workers give because they appreciate the United Way’s efforts in getting assistance to the people who need the help in this community. “We rely on their expertise,” he said.
“Our people are very giving individuals,” Thornbrugh added. “We think its our responsibility to help our neighbors.”
More than 66 percent of the associates at Scheels All Sports retailer donated to the United Way campaign.
The company has a fondness for childhood literacy and the Dolly Parton Imagination Library, a program the United Way helps fund in this area, providing free books each month to children from birth to age 5.
In the Independence School District, schools set goals, and then exceeded them, driving donations up almost 12 percent.
At the Ford Claycomo plant, there were 737 new United Way donors, adding to this year’s campaign.
The United Way’s Tocqueville Society households, pledging $10,000 or more annually, have also gotten more into the spirit of giving. The number of donors at the highest level in Kansas City area companies is up.
Stewart reported going to a fundraising gathering at one home expecting 25 people to show up and being overwhelmed with a turnout of more than 70.
“We’re a winning community,” he added. “We win even more when everybody gets behind the campaign and behind the need.”
It’s not too late for people to give to the United Way.