UNITED WAY KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN: The United Way of Central and Northern Vancouver Island held a campaign kick-off event at Harris Oceanside GM in Parksville September 15. Andy Lankester

UNITED WAY KICKS OFF CAMPAIGN: The United Way of Central and Northern Vancouver Island held a campaign kick-off event at Harris Oceanside GM in Parksville September 15. Andy Lankester

United Way kicks off campaign in Parksville Qualicum Beach

An event at Oceanside GM in Parksville on Sept. 15 gave the campaign an early boost

The United Way’s fundraising campaign got a big boost Sept. 15 thanks to a generous donation from the Harris Auto Group in Parksville and Nanaimo.

Two cheques in the amount of $6,690 were presented to United Way of Central and Northern Vancouver Island at a community fund kick-off event hosted at Harris Oceanside GM in Parksville.

The money generated from the employee giving program at the Harris Auto Group was matched by the company and added up to a whopping $13,380 for the United Way community fund.

Signy Madden of the United Way said that donation will help them reach their $1,500,000 goal, money that will will fund the 48 programs they provide in the community.

“Without support like this we would not be able to help people who need it most. We are blessed to have the support of the Harris Auto Group,” she told the gathering.

Dealer principal Mike Harris said their employees choose the amount they want to give in their pay roll deduction plan and when the company matches the amount it adds up to big numbers.

“It’s a great thing for our employees to do and we encourage other employers to do the same,” said Harris, who is a member of the United Way community foundation board.

The financial goal for the mid-Island is $700,000 and Madden said money raised in each of the communities stays in the community to improve the lives of people who live here.

It’s estimated more than 16,000 people will be helped by United Way funded programs.

Madden said some of them are faced with a crisis, others have chronic issues and during the fundraising campaign she gets to hear many of the good news stories that result from the programs they invest in.

“We had a guy who had a brain injury. He had an accident and had to start his life all over again and he is now a peer mentor at one of the brain injury societies we fund. He said he went from feeling like his life was over to helping people every week because he knows what it is like to have a brain injury,” she related.

She pointed out that from struggling families to lonely seniors the people who benefit from the United Way community fund could be your co-worker or your neighbour.

“Stuff happens every day. You are driving home and there is a car accident and suddenly someone has lost their spouse or their dad. Where do they go? Hospice. Who funds hospice? The United Way.”

She added: “Whether it is a crisis or a long term health issue we fund programs that will help improve the quality of people’s lives and get them through the crisis and get them back up on their feet again.”

Madden said donations change thousands of lives each year and a lot of times the people who receive help are the ones who turn around and give back to the community as volunteers or board members.

You can give on-line at uwcnvi.ca.

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