United Way campaign gets extended kickoff

The Day of Caring, which kicks off the annual United Way of Tompkins County food drive, is being extended fivefold.

Now a Week of Caring, Sept. 21-25, will give community members additional time to support local food pantries and not-for-profit organizations that are seeing higher demand due to the impact COVID-19 has had on the community.

The 24th annual food drive is led by the United Way of Tompkins County (UWTC), which helps people meet their immediate, basic needs through the support of local and regional programs and services in health, education and financial stability.

The theme is “We Were Built for This,” an acknowledgement of the UWTC’s centennial anniversary in January 2021.

This year’s Stephen E. Garner Week of Caring – named in honor of the late Tompkins Trust Co. CEO and United Way board chair – won’t have the same type of launch as previous campaigns, but there are plenty of ways for community members to contribute.

The UWTC welcomes the donation of shelf-stable food, household essentials such as toiletries and cleaning supplies, school supplies, and pet food and supplies.

Donations can be dropped off on the Cornell campus; look for the Cornell Catering truck with the Week of Caring banner on the following days:

  • Sept. 23, 3:30-6 p.m. – Sage Hall Parking Lot, corner of Campus Road and East Avenue;
  • Sept. 24, 7-9 a.m. – east side of A Parking Lot, just off Jessup Road; and
  • Sept. 24, 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. – east side of the East Hill Plaza parking lot.

The UWTC is also accepting donations throughout the week, from 8 a.m. to 5.pm., at its downtown Ithaca office, 313 N. Aurora St., as well as at participating pantries and partner locations. This year’s increase in donation sites and the extended timeframe will allow for safe, socially distanced drop-offs, and will make participation easier for people who are working remotely and cannot donate at their workplace.

The organizers are hoping to collect about 3,000 pounds of food during the Week of Caring.

Financial donations can be made online at www.uwtc.org or by calling (607) 500-GIVE (4483).

This year’s Cornell United Way campaign, which also supports UWTC, will officially run Oct. 13 through Dec. 31.

The campaign helps raise awareness about hunger and food insecurity while giving Cornell students, faculty and staff members an opportunity to make donations that directly support local agencies and programs.

Last year, the Cornell community raised $608,137, providing 37% of UWTC’s campaign total.

“This year’s pandemic has shown us that we’re all in this together, and it’s more important than ever that those of us in a position to help will do our parts,” said Pat Wynn, assistant vice president for student and campus life, who chairs the Cornell campaign. “I’m honored to be working with the United Way again as we approach the 100th anniversary of improving the lives of our neighbors in Tompkins County and beyond.

“The United Way supports the joys of financial stability, of learning, of empowerment, and health,” she said. “Watch this fall for even more information about where your dollars go in the community, and plan for some exciting, virtual ways to engage.”

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