Local rock bands Lords and Ladies and The GMOs will perform in Branion Plaza on Sept. 25 to help kick off the University’s annual United Way fundraising campaign. The free concert from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. coincides with a barbecue hosted by the campus United Way committee and hospitality services staff.

Volunteers and United Way supporters from across campus will serve hot dogs, popcorn and candy floss for $2 each; wash them down with a $1 pop.

Linamar Corporation president Jim Jarrell will join U of G president Alastair Summerlee for the announcement of the University’s 2012 campaign goal. Jarrell is chair of the 2012 Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin United Way campaign, which plans to raise $3.2-million this year to support social service agencies in Wellington and Dufferin counties. The University community donated more than $570,000 in 2011.

Working with Jarrell are U of G United Way co-chairs Genevieve Gauthier, secretariat officer and information and privacy co-ordinator for the University, and history professor Stuart McCook, associate dean of research and graduate studies for the College of Arts. Student co-chairs are arts and science undergrad Jolène Labbé and Gavin Armstrong, a biomedical science PhD student.

“We’re just the background singers for a group of more than 150 campus volunteers who perform flawlessly every year to support the United Way,” says Gauthier. “They ask University staff, faculty, students and retirees to help by making donations through payroll deduction, attending special events, and sharing their talents – whether it be baking a pie for a raffle, organizing a book sale or jamming with their band for the kick-off party.”

She invites the campus to fill Branion Plaza for Tuesday’s concert. Lords and Ladies is a new Guelph band that includes U of G students Matthew Browne on bass and vocals and Matthew McIntosh on guitar, as well as Guelph musicians Nick Lamont on drums and Allie Weatherbee on vocals. They’ll be joined Tuesday by 2012 grad Joey Sabljic on keyboards. Influenced by a wide variety of musical styles from blues to classic metal, the Lords say they’re striving to create a sound all their own.

The GMOs have a sound well known in the Guelph area; they’ve been playing rock and original songs since 1999. Band members include Owen Roberts of the Office of Research, retired professor Doug Larson of the Department of Integrative Biology, and U of G graduates and Guelph businessmen Len Kahn and Rob McLean.

Other attractions at the United Way barbecue will be the Gryphon mascot and U of G’s cheerleading team.

Following the kick-off event, the University’s United Way website will be launched on the U of G home page. Check the website for campaign updates and a listing of special events, including the annual College Idol competition.

Scheduled for Oct. 31, the noon-hour event will include a talent show, lunch and prizes for the best Halloween costumes. Organizer Jennifer Beehler is looking for talent, so send her an email if you’d like to perform: jbeehler@uoguelph.ca. Tickets for the show are $13 each or $11 when you book a table for eight; email your order to tonip@uoguelph.ca.

During the first week of October, United Way pledge forms will be distributed to employees and retirees by campaign volunteers but also available for download from the campaign website.

Whether made by payroll deduction, credit card or cash, every gift accompanied by a pledge form enters your name in the United Way’s weekly incentive draws and the Dec. 7 grand-prize draw. The top prizes are a $500 gift certificate donated by Stone Road Mall, a $500 RRSP given by TD Canada Trust, and a one-year parking pass from U of G Parking Services.

U of G students will also be able to deduct a gift to the United Way from their meal plan.

View a video of the Guelph-Wellington-Dufferin United Way’s Sept. 9 Launch Party.