For many at the University of Guelph, the annual kick-off barbecue for the campus United Way campaign – set to be held Sept. 24 – has become a “back to school” tradition.

People gather in Branion Plaza to buy a hot dog for a good cause, catch up with friends and colleagues, and wait for the campaign goal to be revealed.More than that, the event signifies everything that makes the University’s United Way campaign so successful, say campaign organizers.

united way

“It brings together the people, who, year after year, give so generously in a shared commitment to help others,” said Rich Moccia, associate vice-president, research (strategic partnerships). He will co-chair this year’s campaign with Patricia Tersigni, director of academic programs and policy in the provost’s office.

“It sends a feeling of pride in volunteerism throughout the University, and demonstrates the individual and collective support on campus for the broader community we are part of.”

President Franco Vaccarino will announce the University’s 2015 United Way goal in Branion Plaza, Sept. 24, at noon. The barbecue runs from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m.

Establishing a fundraising goal helps motivate people to work together to reach the target, Tersigni said. “But people are also committing to work together to help others in our community, which is what is most important.”

The United Way works with more than 90 local agencies to provide everything from basic support to fitness and sports programs to programs helping kids grow and develop. “It invests in people to help build and strengthen our community,” said Tersigni.

She said the U of G campaign is crucial to the success of the regional United Way effort. Last year, U of G raised a record-breaking $616,910, nearly $17,000 above its goal. U of G has raised more than $600,000 for UW for three years in a row, and more than $500,000 in each of the past six years.

Tersigni said people can get involved in many ways, including giving through the U of G payroll deduction plan, donating raffle items or participating in fundraising activities around campus.

Volunteer co-ordinators and canvassers will distribute pledge forms to employees and retirees. Students were introduced to the United Way during Orientation Week and Project Serve Day. Students may download pledge forms from the United Way website.

All forms will be entered for weekly prize draws throughout the campaign. A grand prize draw will be held Dec. 4 for prizes including a $500 RRSP from TD Canada Trust, a one-year parking pass from U of G Parking Service and free tuition for a U of G continuing education course.

This year marks the 75th anniversary of the Guelph Wellington Dufferin United Way. No pressure, say student co-chairs Meghan Doherty and Kim Hu.

“It just shows how ambitious we are and gives us the motivation to do even better this year,” said Hu, a third-year human kinetics major.

Said Doherty, a third-year arts and sciences major who has volunteered with the United Way since high school: “It’s a challenge to see what else we can do.”

Details about upcoming United Way events are available online.