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WMU's annual United Way campaign is under way

by Tonya Durlach

Sept. 21, 2011 | WMU News

KALAMAZOO--Western Michigan University began its annual United Way campaign earlier this month with a public kickoff rally held in conjunction with CommUniverCity Night at Waldo Stadium.

During the event, President John M. Dunn encouraged the campus and local communities to help increase the quality of life in Kalamazoo County by giving to the Greater Kalamazoo United Way.

"Each fall, WMU teams up with more than 350 of the area's leading employers to raise funds for local programs that directly impact the three pillars of a strong and sustainable society: education, income and health," Dunn said in his recorded United Way campaign kickoff address. "Working with United Way allows us to increase the value of every contribution and focus millions of additional dollars into those areas that are key to making Kalamazoo a better place in which to live, learn and work."

"It's all about helping people stand on their own," he continued, "Because, when you improve the quality of life for one, you make the community healthier and stronger for all."

WMU has established a goal of $300,000 for this year's United Way campaign, which will run through Thursday, Nov. 10. The University also hopes to increase the number of contributors by 10 percent over last year. In the two weeks since the campaign started, WMU faculty, staff and retirees already have given $36,000 in gifts and pledges, bringing the University 12 percent closer to its goal.

All campus contributions go to the Greater Kalamazoo United Way, which works with dozens of local agencies to help struggling individuals and families meet immediate challenges and secure the resources they need to keep moving in a positive direction. Last year, Greater Kalamazoo United Way:

Ron Kitchens, CEO of Southwest Michigan First, is the chair of this year's Greater Kalamazoo United Way Community Campaign. Kitchens and the volunteer cabinet have set the following three goals for the communitywide campaign:

WMU's United Way Advisory Board began distributing pledge cards to all faculty, staff and retirees earlier this month. Gifts can be made as one-time donations by cash, check or credit card or as pledges, payable by payroll deduction, credit card or direct billing from United Way.

United Way contributors who give a new or increased gift of at least $50 this year will be automatically entered into a drawing for a 2011 Harley-Davidson Softail Deluxe motorcycle. Those who contribute early can also win prizes. WMU faculty and staff members who give any amount and return their pledge cards to the president's office by 5 p.m. the Thursday before each weekly prize drawing will be eligible for that week's and future week's drawings, until they win a prize. There also will be a grand-prize drawing Friday, Nov. 18, after the close of the campus campaign.

Learn more about the Greater Kalamazoo United Way and its partner agencies at For questions about making a pledge or donation, or to schedule a United Way meeting in your department, email

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