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Giving back to the community

[United Way BBQ]
With events such as the Kick-Off BBQ, Queen's students helped the university reach its $300,000 fundraising goal for the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington. (Supplied Photo) 

The Queen’s community has met its $300,000 fundrasing goal for the United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox and Addington (KFLA). The campus campaign represents a significant portion of the overall United Way KFLA campaign, which topped its goal by raising $3,414,000.

Students play a key role in the Queen's United Way campaign. As the campaign wrapped up, the Gazette spoke with Shannon Plant and Amy Yu, the student co-chairs of Queen’s United Way.

GAZETTE: While the vast majority of students do not come from Kingston and area, there continues to be great support for the local United Way. What are the main reasons for this support?

AMY and SHANNON: Kingston has provided us with so much, so giving back to the community just feels like the right thing to do. The United Way KFLA plays such an important role in the Kingston community. Students know that when they join the United Way committee, they’ll truly be making a difference to the city they call “home.”

GAZETTE: What have been some of the main fundraisers for this year’s campaign?

AMY and SHANNON: The Kick-Off BBQ was our first major fundraiser. With the help of Giant Tiger and Campus One Stop, who generously donated hotdogs and hamburgers, this year’s fundraiser was a huge success. We witnessed a great turnout from Queen’s students, faculty and staff who all wanted to show their support for United Way.

We also teamed up with United Way KFLA to host tours of the Science Formal. The engineering students of Queen’s put many hours into the design of their set, and it always turns out to be quite a spectacle. On the day of the formal, the public is welcome to tour the set with an optional donation to United Way.

We’re also planned our annual food and clothing drive at the end of November, in which the volunteers of Queen’s United Way collect door-to-door donations in the University District. This has consistently been a successful event in years past, and we have been able to give a large amount of donations directly to United Way agencies.

GAZETTE: Why did you personally get involved with the United Way and what have you gained from participating?

AMY: I have actually been with United Way Toronto since Grade 9. I got involved because I felt an immediate impact with the community around me. Since coming to Queen’s, it has been incredibly inspiring to see the number of students we’ve engaged with at every fundraiser and outreach event, as well as our growth over the past few years.

SHANNON: When I arrived at Queen’s, I didn't know what to get involved in or how to help the Kingston community. I came across the Queen’s United Way booth at an Orientation Week event and became very interested in the organization and the vast number of agencies it provides assistance to. I honestly didn’t know much about United Way when I first got involved, but when I went to my first “Day of Caring” and experienced all the positive change it brought to Kingston, I knew I wanted to become even more involved and contribute as much as possible.

GAZETTE: What has been the highlight for you during this campaign?

AMY and SHANNON: The highlight for us was definitely seeing the increased engagement in the student body. Whether it was through our Kick-Off BBQ or the Science Formal tours, the students at Queen’s have shown an incredible level of support and we’re happy to say that this campaign has been gaining more and more recognition throughout the Queen’s community. Students have participated enthusiastically in our events such as the “Day of Caring” where our committee and volunteers get the chance to better understand the agencies the United Way KFLA provides funding for. We are so grateful to be working with the United Way and appreciate all the unique experiences and opportunities afforded to us.

The United Way of Kingston, Frontenac, Lennox & Addington funds agencies that help 75,000 people locally each year, including 13,775 school students who were provided nutritious food to help them learn better at school, 1,810 children and youth who were healthy, active and safe by participating in afterschool activities, 250 seniors who were dealing with elder abuse issues found a new sense of safety, and 1,705 people found a place to call home with emergency, transitional or affordable permanent housing. Members of the Queen’s community can still donate online at https://andarweb.unitedwaykfla.ca/quregistration.