United Way and UnitedHealthcare to Feed 50 Thousand on Day of Caring

United Way Day of Caring will feature perhaps the largest project of its 21 year history on September 18, 2015.

United Way of the Greater Chippewa Valley, through the generous support of UnitedHealthcare and additional support from RCU, plans to assemble volunteers to package up to 50,000 meals for local food pantries.

Day of Caring Sponsorships have helped underwrite the costs of Day of Caring, including providing T-shirts to participating volunteers. For 2015, United Way was able to raise almost twice the sponsorship dollars so it could bring a nonprofit organization called Outreach, Inc. to the Chippewa Valley. Outreach is an organization that supplies the raw ingredients and packaging equipment for fully fortified meal kits. United Way's responsibility is to secure a location to hold the assembly, recruit the 100-130 volunteers that will assemble the meals, and plan the distribution of food.

America's Best Value Inn on Clairemont Avenue in Eau Claire has already generously provided the location for the volunteer event, which will take place in the Rosewood Room. Volunteer positions are being reserved for UnitedHealthcare volunteers due to the organization co-sponsorship. Additional volunteer slots are reserved for RCU, which contributed additional dollars to support the project. Remaining costs for the project are being covered by Day of Caring sponsors (BMO Harris Bank, CCF Bank, Marshfield Clinic, HSHS St. Joseph's/Sacred Heart Hospitals, and WIPFLi) and T-shirt sales.

The food packages assembled (a vitamin- and protein-fortified macaroni and cheese dinner) will be distributed to area food pantries in Chippewa and Eau Claire counties with the help of Feed My People Food Bank.

"We don't want to seem unappreciative to volunteers by not giving away the shirts this year," says James Peters, director of marketing for United Way, "but we looked at the sponsorship dollars coming in and we asked ourselves, 'Is there more we could do with these dollars to help those in need?'"

Last year, United Way put out a Day of Caring volunteer survey to see how volunteers would feel about not receiving a T-shirt for free this year. Over 81% of those surveyed felt it was worth it to have T-shirt dollars instead go to supporting local food pantries, and said they would consider buying a T-shirt instead.

T-Shirts will be available to volunteers this year at a cost of $10 per shirt for S-XL and $12.50 for 2X - 3X. For every T-shirt purchased, approximately 18 additional meal servings can be offered to area food pantries.

United Way will have a short Day of Caring Kick-off event at 9:00 A.M. in which all participating Day of Caring volunteers are invited to attend. Midwest Entertainment, a wedding, DJ and master of ceremonies company, is donating its services to provide music and fun. The Day of Caring Kick Off will take place at America's Best Value Inn in the Rosewood Room.