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Community Campaign Chair Marty Giles and his team of workplace campaign chairs began talking strategy in the summer of 2015. As a group, they landed on the notion of encouraging people to look at the opportunity of giving to the United Way through the lens of “that could be me.”

“One thing could happen in our lives that changes everything,” said Marty Giles. “Any one of us could have everything one day and nothing the next. It will be United Way funded agencies that would be there to help.”

Thousands of people give to the United Way’s Community Campaign every year, including many hundreds at the Leader level ($1,200 and up).

“That could be me, too,” said Giles. “There is no reason why, if you are in a position to do so, you can’t be one of those leaders helping to meet community needs.”

Enthusiasm, positivity and participation were in abundance as the 2015 Community Campaign kicked off at Shell Place on September 9th. In the 10 weeks that followed, volunteer canvassers and special events organizers, worked tirelessly and with conviction, knowing that we had to do everything we could to meet the growing community needs in Wood Buffalo.

One of the shining lights in the community campaign was the Regional Municipality of Wood Buffalo. Co-Chairs Kimberly Snow and Sonya Earle worked with a great team of volunteers to drive an effort that resulted in a one hundred percent increase in participation.

“The United Way campaign has been a lot of work, but it has been so rewarding,” said Earle. “A lot of our volunteers didn’t want it to end as it has given them an opportunity to interact with people in other departments while helping the community.”

Ian Fowlow from Spartan Controls was particularly excited about the Skimmin’ the Surface fundraiser, a cardboard boat race that happened mid-campaign in the pool at MacDonald Island organized by The HUB Family Resource Centre, Justin Slade Youth Foundation and Blue Heron. His colleagues went all out to design and build a cardboard craft that was simply extraordinary.

“It was fun watching a group of engineers trying to work together on the design process,” said Fowlow. “They were so into it.”

With a small team of 13 employees, Spartan Controls is fully invested in giving back.

“Fort McMurray has been good to us,” said Fowlow. “We couldn’t beat our participation from last year because it was 100-percent, but we’re going to match it.”

Many of the larger campaigns were also successful, including Suncor and Syncrude, both of which topped $2 million in donations.

“Between Dave (Dave Evoy – Campaign Chair) and I, we did 67 presentations at all times of the day and night and organized 10 Days of Caring projects,” said Wanda Power, vice-chair of the Syncrude campaign.

“We can’t thank these amazing volunteers enough,” said Giles. “They are the heart and soul of this effort to meet growing community needs and they did an outstanding job.”