University of Guelph staff, faculty and students gathered in Branion Plaza at noon today to kick off their annual United Way fundraising campaign. This year’s goal is $600,000.

U of G’s new president Franco Vaccarino says, “I am joining the University of Guelph in its 50th-anniversary year, and I am impressed and very proud to acknowledge that the University community has participated in and continued to build its support for the annual United Way campaign in each of those 50 years.

“Our volunteers today are a dedicated and ambitious group of staff, faculty and students who recognize, as did their predecessors, that by working together we can build a thriving and more compassionate community – here where we work and where we live.”

UW_2014_Launch_cropCo-chairs for the University’s 2014 United Way campaign are Kim Best, department and undergraduate secretary in the Department of Biomedical Sciences; Prof. Rich Moccia, associate vice-president, research (strategic partnerships); and undergraduate students Remy Marlatt, marketing management, and Meghan Doherty, arts and science.

“Standing right behind us,” says Best, “are 200 others who volunteer their time as committee members, area co-ordinators and canvassers. And supporting them are many more who organize special events to help us raise awareness and generate donations to the United Way.”

While serving hot dogs at the kick-off barbecue, Moccia said, “I’ve seen firsthand the benefits of United Way giving through things like adult literacy programs, support for kids’ sports and hunger alleviation.

“The programs funded by the United Way thread through every part of the community in which we live. We can support all of them through one donation and create some positive energy amidst the many challenges that confront us.”

Also attending the University kick-off was Bryan Larkin, campaign chair for the United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin and former chief of the Guelph Police Service. Larkin is also a 2010 graduate of the justice studies program at the University of Guelph-Humber.

The University’s United Way campaign runs for 10 weeks; visit the campaign website for regular updates and events.