The 2020 Annual Campaign of the Centre County United Way kicked off with a live Facebook event on Sept. 21. The event was held at the Happy Valley Adventure Bureau and featured several speakers, including, from left, Ed Stoddard, director of communications, Happy Valley Adventure Bureau; Allayn Beck, executive director, Food Bank of State College; Jeannine Lozier, board chair, Centre County United Way; Wendy Vinhage, executive director, Centre County United Way; and Marie Hardin, dean, Donald Bellisario College of Communications. Submitted phot
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One day each fall, hundreds of volunteers have dispersed through the local communities volunteering their time, their money and their energy to support nonprofit organizations in a show of support for what each does for the residents of Centre County.
But this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, these dedicated community servants won’t be painting at the YMCA or raking leaves at a historic cemetery.
Instead, organizers are asking supporters of the annual United Way Day of Caring powered by PNC is asking to help in another way — by donating funding to support these nonprofits through an online effort.
Megan Evans, UW communications coordinator, said it was a tough decision to have to cancel the yearly event, which marks 27 years in Centre County on Oct. 1.
The call to cancel was made in July by the UW board in an attempt to keep everyone safe by avoiding in-person events such as this.
“Of course everyone was disappointed because it is a day they look forward to each year, but they were very understanding that this year it is just not safe,” said Megan Evans.
Over the past 26 years, the Day of Caring has included more than 63,000 volunteers that completed nearly 3,500 projects for upwards of 50 nonprofit organizations. Evans said that work and funding contributed saved these various groups more than $10 million.
In addition to the projects completed by Day of Caring volunteers, Evans said the benefits of physical labor goes beyond that actual work.
“It gives agency staff an opportunity to meet the volunteers, talk about what they do through their programs and make connections with the community,” said Evans. “The volunteers have the added bonus of seeing the result of their work and learning more about the nonprofit and the needs in our community that aren’t always apparent. They get to work side by side with other members of the community and perhaps make a new friend.”
She said the UW obviously upset the tradition couldn’t continue this year, noting the money save by the agencies using volunteer labor will now come from their budget and not be used for direct services to the coming.
“Having a day when people can donate will really be a help to these organizations,” Evans said. “And, hopefully next year we will be back out there using our muscle.”
She said although the program received sponsorship from longtime partner, PNC, the United Way has not yet. seen donation to the cause. But, she noted that through this online fundraising efforts, donors have the ability to help the partner agencies even more financially in a year when the really need it.
“Every donation — no matter the size — will be appreciated and will help these amazing agencies who have not stopped helping our neighbors during COVID,” said Evans. “To me, they are frontline workers. They haven’t skipped a beat and United Way has their back. We hope the community will too.”
To make a donation to the cause, visit.