September 20, 2018 7:38 am
Updated: September 21, 2018 9:39 am

United Way Elgin-Middlesex kicks off local 2018 campaign with annual 3M Harvest Lunch

Kelly Ziegner, CEO of United Way of Elgin and Middlesex and Kyla Woodcock, the organization's 2018 campaign chair and first Chief ChangeMaker stand by the Local Love in Action bus at the 3M Harvest Lunch in London, Ont. on Sept. 20, 2018

Liny Lamberink / 980 CFPL

Hundreds of people turned out to Budweiser Gardens in downtown London Thursday to mark the start of the local United Way’s 2018 fundraising campaign.

The organization’s Elgin-Middlesex branch will took over the ice surface at the downtown arena for their annual 3M Harvest Lunch.

Attendees paid $10 for a yummy meal, with a side of philanthropy.

“You get a deli-inspired lunch. A great sandwich, some Nestle ice cream, which is always a big hit, a piece of fruit, chips, all the regular stuff that you would expect in a boxed lunch,” said Kelly Zeigner, CEO of the United Way of Elgin and Middlesex, ahead of the event.

Without the help of 3M the event wouldn’t be possible, said Ziegner.

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“We have a great sponsor with 3M. They’re thrilled to be helping out. They send us an amazing crew of their staff team who volunteer because feeding 3,000 people in the course of a lunch hour is a big task.”

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Like last year’s campaign, the United Way isn’t setting a numbered fundraising target. The organization says this year’s campaign is focusing on poverty in the community and youth success.

“Hunger, homelessness and vulnerable youth aren’t somebody else’s problem,” said Kyla Woodcock, this year’s campaign chair and the organization’s first Chief ChangeMaker, in a statement.

According to the United Way, the Elgin and Middlesex region has the nation’s third highest child poverty rate, where one in five live in a household that has a hard time affording rent and groceries.

“These problems belong to all of us and we can solve them when we stand together. Every donation, large or small, fuels United Way’s crucial work,” Woodcock said.

READ MORE: Guelph United Way sets goal of $3.6M for 2018 campaign

While September isn’t really the beginning of the year Ziegner said it stills feels like a new beginning.

“We say it’s our grownup back to school. It feels like it’s the time of year everyone’s reconnecting with colleagues. It’s a great networking event,” she said of the lunch.

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New this year is the Local Love in Action bus.

Following the lunch, Ziegner and Woodcock hopped on the bus to take the campaign through the county to Strathroy, St. Thomas, and Aylmer.

The stops celebrate some of the ways people show local love for their community and how we can come together to address key local issues, said Ziegner.

The United Way will report on the campaign’s progress at it’s annual Impact Celebration in the spring.

© 2018 Global News, a division of Corus Entertainment Inc.

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