WMU United Way launches 2019 campaign with a $200,000 goal, children's book drive

Contact: Deanne Puca
Logo with cartoon children and a gold W the words Book-it Change a Child's Story.

KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Western Michigan University's 2019 United Way Campaign is underway, with faculty and staff expected to receive their pledge cards by the beginning of October.

President Edward Montgomery announced its goal of $200,000 at a gathering of supporters Sept. 19. The theme of this year’s campaign is "Western United."

The event also marked the launch of a children's book drive to jump-start the collection of 2,500 new or gently used books throughout the University community for students in kindergarten through the third grade. The "Book-It" drive benefits a similar effort organized by the United Way of Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region. Collection boxes will be available in buildings throughout campus during the month of October. Books for the campaign also may be purchased from an Amazon wish list.

Monetary donations also are accepted online.

Montgomery attended the launch with his wife, Kari Montgomery, and spoke of the history of WMU as an institution started by a land donation from the city of Kalamazoo and its dedicated to the success of the region ever since.

"Western Michigan University's long-standing partnership with the United Way represents a commitment by this University to the community as well as an opportunity to give back," Montgomery told a group of campus campaign volunteers. "We will work to continue to cement that bond."

Chris Sargent, president and CEO of the UWBCKR, said the regional organization has had a 40% growth in the number of volunteers in recent years, including many from the WMU community, as well as approximately 15,000 donors, also in large part from WMU.

"Because of your time, because of your commitment, we're actually able to say to the community, 'We're here for you every step of the way.'"

The local United Way emphasizes education as one of its four primary areas to improve the well-being of people in the region in its campaign to "Change the Story." The four overarching goals are to:

  • Improve high school graduation rates,
  • Increase the number of economically stable households,
  • Improve family and infant health and reducing racial and economic disparities, and
  • Provide a safety net to help individuals and families access basic necessities in times of need.

For reasons of privacy, once University faculty and staff receive their pledge cards, they should be returned directly to WMU United Way Campaign, Office of the President, Western Michigan University, 1903 W Michigan Ave, Kalamazoo MI 49008-5202.

Any new, undesignated gift of at least $50 automatically enters a person into a drawing for up to $28,000 applied to a car of choice from one of the sponsoring dealerships. To be included in this special thank-you drawing, pledge forms must be received at the WMU Office of the President by 5 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8. The winner will be announced by the United Way of the Battle Creek and Kalamazoo Region on Thursday, Dec. 19.

For more WMU news, arts and events, visit WMU News online.