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United Way campaign

The United Way of Ellis County is off and running with its annual fund-raising campaign.

On Friday, the organization held its regular kick-off event with the Hays Area Chamber of Commerce. On Saturday, a new twist was added by having a community kick-off at Aubel-Bickle Park. Kids in superhero costumes had the opportunity to mingle with real-life heroes in uniform, including those from Hays Police Department, Hays Fire Department, Ellis County Sheriff’s Office, Kansas Highway Patrol, Ellis County Rural Fire and Ellis County Emergency Medical Services, Kansas National Guard and the American Legion Riders.

Appropriately enough, the 2016 campaign theme is “Heroes for Change.” The goal remains level with last year at $450,000.

All dollars raised will remain in Ellis County, a point emphasized by both United Way Executive Director Sherry Dryden and this year’s campaign chair Mike Morley.

In marketing material for the fund-raiser, Morley referred to those working at the member agencies as everyday heroes making a difference.

“The United Way and its 15 partner agencies work together to provide food and shelter to residents who are in need,” he said, “assist those who have been abused, increase the percentage of students who graduate from high school, help neighbors affected by a disaster, and provide avenues to strengthen families.

“However, they can’t do it alone,” Morley implored. “They rely on your generous donation to the United Way of Ellis County to run their services.”

The partner agencies currently receiving local United Way support include: Big Brothers Big Sisters of Ellis County, Cancer Council of Ellis County, CASA, Catholic Charities, Developmental Services of Northwest Kansas, Western Kansas Chapter of the American Red Cross, First Call for Help, Girl Scouts of Kansas Heartland Sunflower Region, Hays Area Children’s Center, Kansas Legal Services, Options Domestic and Sexual Violence Services, Parents and Children Together, Smoky Hill Foundation for Chemical Dependency & the Regional Prevention Center, United Cerebral Palsy of Kansas, and Western Kansas Association on Concerns of the Disabled.

All of the agencies merit your support. The services they provide are heroic and necessary. Donations can be made to individual organizations or to all.

If you won’t be approached during a workplace fund-raiser but would like to assist this year’s effort, stop by the United Way of Ellis County, 205 E. Seventh, Ste. 106, Hays. Donations also can be mailed or made online at www.liveunited.us.

plowry@dailynews.net

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