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Guelph United Way issues ‘Red Alert’ due to high community needs

The United Way in Guelph. Matt Carty / Global Guelph

Guelph’s local United Way agency says it has issued a red alert amid its annual fundraising campaign because the demand for funding far exceeds the money that is available.

In a statement on Tuesday, executive director Glenna Banda said community organizations have asked the agency for over $3.4 million to support services like emergency food programs and pantries, children’s mentoring programs and mental health services.

Read more: ‘Going back to normal isn’t good enough’ — United Way launches fundraising campaign in Guelph

“So many are looking to United Way for support this year to ensure they can meet the increasing and deepening needs and while our community has been generous, there is a large gap between the demand and the level at which we can respond,” Banda said.

“This means some community issues will still be issues tomorrow and someone you know may not get the help they need when they need it.”

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The organization is the second-largest funder of social service programs across the country, second only to the government.

The United Way launched its annual fundraising campaign in September and emphasized the need for the community to come together and support a radical recovery.

But the United Way said it estimates it can only fund about 50 per cent of the requests it has received from the organizations it supports.

“We need supports in place now — not years from now,” said Patricia Tersigni, 2021 United Way campaign chair.

“It’s not enough to just go back to ‘normal’ — because normal wasn’t good for many people. We need a radical recovery.”

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As part of the fundraising campaign, the United Way introduced the slogan #RadInRed and is urging everyone to wear red until Dec. 17 as a way to draw attention to the initiative.

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People are also encouraged to post a selfie on social media with #RadInRed.

“Each and every one of us has a role to play in our communities’ recovery and through the #RadInRed campaign, we hope by bringing attention to the very necessary radical recovery we can share our passion for community and create positive change, together,” Banda said.

Read more: Nearly 600,000 people accessed Ontario food banks in a year, report shows

The United Way said it provided $2.3 million in services to over 90,000 residents across Guelph, Wellington and Dufferin in 2021. That’s in addition to the nearly $1.5 million for COVID-19 emergency services in 2020.

More information on how to donate to the United Way can be found on its website.

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