United Way surpasses goal; raises $1,236,801 during campaign

MORGANTOWN – The United Way of Monongalia and Preston Counties officially announced Monday, Jan. 11, that it had surpassed its 2021 Campaign goal, raising a total of $1,236,801 or 108% of its goal.

The campaign, which kicked off in September 2020, raises money to help fund programs at 24 agencies in the two-county region, as well as internal United Way programming, such as the Helpful Harvest Food Program, Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library, WV211 call service and the Monongalia County Family Resource Network. This year’s theme was fittingly “Now, More Than Ever,” and the goal was $1,142,000.

Serving as campaign chairs this year were David and Susan Hardesty, who announced the final total in a video on social media. They said they were proud to lead the charge during this unprecedented year. United Way CEO Brandi Helms echoed those thoughts.

“We have to thank the Hardestys so much for their leadership and stewardship during this difficult campaign year. At the beginning, we weren’t sure what to expect because of COVID-19, but with the Hardestys leading the way and with the help of the board of directors, campaign advisory committee and United Way staff, we’re so excited to say that this campaign has gone above and beyond what we imagined,” Helms said. “This community steps up to help each other, and we can’t thank them enough.”

“This has been such an unpredictable year and we’re so lucky to have had the Hardestys as community advocates leading our efforts,” agreed Macall Speaker, director of development with the United Way. “We couldn’t have done it without the local companies stepping up, the employee volunteers and each individual giver believing in the cause. This money will make a huge positive impact for local families and friends in need during a time that it’s needed most.”

In addition to the campaign, United Way was able to secure funding for several other projects and initiatives. In the spring, United Way set up a COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund, which garnered just over $130,000 in donations that have been distributed to community agencies working to help during the pandemic.

Thanks to a $750,000 grant from the Hazel Ruby McQuain Charitable Trust, United Way started the Helpful Harvest Food Program in the beginning months of the pandemic to help get food in the hands of those who need it most. The program has about 35 participating food pantries in both Mon and Preston counties, and it is serving about 13,000 people a month. To date, the Helpful Harvest program has leveraged $805,435 in produce donated from Appalachian Sustainable Development and the USDA Farmers to Families Food Box Program.