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United Way kicks off yearly campaign

Guests are shown at United Way's annual kickoff breakfast event that was held on Thursday at the Holiday Inn in Johnstown. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

JOHNSTOWN — Local representatives began their morning on Thursday with the most important meal of the day: Breakfast.

The United Way of Fulton County held its annual Kick Off breakfast buffet at the Holiday Inn for the start of their 2019-20 community campaign.

Attendees got to enjoy entertainment from Mark Hitrick on the keyboard alongside their meal as they came to support the start of the fundraising campaign.

“United Way is tackling big issues — homelessness, hunger, domestic violence, financial stability for families who are in need. As leaders in Fulton County, we have a unique opportunity through United Way to shape this work with positive change in our community,” said United Way Executive Director Lisa Pfeiffer. “This year our generosity is needed more than ever. Sadly the statistics of nearly 25 percent of all families with children under 18 are living below the poverty line. Your donations help support the basic needs, so that can get back on their feet and achieve financial stability.”

There to help kickoff the United Way 2019-20 Community Campaign was Assemblyman Robert Smullen, who showed gratitude for the work that they do.

Assemblyman Robert Smullen speaks at the United Way breakfast. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

United Way helps lead a over a dozen of community service agencies in the county that are nonprofits and fundraises for them to help their programs thrive. They try to address the needs of people in the community with issues such as rental assistance and directing them to local food pantries.

“I think it’s always good to remind us where we are in a great state, in the 21st Century. When you think that there would be freedom from want and freedom from need, but that’s not always the case,” Smullen said. “So, I just wanted to say thank you to everyone in the United Way umbrella to make sure no one slips through the cracks in our society. It can make a difference in people’s lives, because when you have a clear mind and a full heart, you can’t lose. This is just the kickoff of a continuous campaign that’s going to make sure that all of our citizens enjoy the American dream. I’m proud to be a part of the community and much more to helping in anyway that I can in the United Way.”

The United Way provides guidance to people who are looking for resources. Donations from community members is what helps keep the United Way running, allowing them to provide those resources.

Pfeiffer said a lot of people are living paycheck to paycheck and some people don’t even see a week-to-week check.

“Imagine the stress of being a small child and not being like all of your peers in school, but not being able to say that your electricity was turned off because your parents weren’t able to pay the bill; that the refrigerator does not indeed have any food in it,” Pfeiffer said. “These kids are lucky if they have mustard, mayonnaise and ketchup on the refrigerator door. Imagine that stress, and trying to achieve well in school. Your donation helps to ensure that the food instability that’s alive and well in Fulton County is addressed and that kids get a good meal.”

United Way of Fulton County Executive Director Lisa Pfeiffer gives closing remarks during the event. (The Leader-Herald/Briana O'Hara)

She said programs such as the backpack programs that are available in Fulton County help provide food for those households on weekends.

“These are real basic issues and the United Way helps to address those. The United Way helps to ensure that no child has to experience that kind of stress,” Pfeiffer said. “We’re making a difference in our community one family at a time and I’m glad to be part of that.”

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