Mitchell United Way hits 2021 campaign goal despite pandemic-related limitations

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As wallets tighten during the COVID-19 pandemic, Mitchell United Way has managed to hit its goal for the 2021 Campaign.

The United Way set a goal of $350,000 to be used on funds for 2021, a lower total than usual due to the pandemic, but the organization surpassed that goal by taking a different approach to reach a final total of $386,024.

COVID-19 wiped away the opportunity for in-person pitches to local businesses and citizens, so the United Way decided to implement passive enrollment, most of which comes from payroll deduction for 2021. Those who donated to last year’s campaign were asked if they would like to make any changes this year, and if not, they automatically matched last year’s donation.

“We were pleasantly surprised that it wasn’t hard as we thought,” said Lee Anderson, United Way campaign chairman. “However, that number is still 20 percent less than last year. We will likely come in lower than we did last year, but still above our goal for the year. We anticipated a bit of a challenge with the economy and the coronavirus, but luckily we were able to come out ahead.”

The United Way raised $444,000 last year, but it purposely lowered the target goal -- which began in August and ran through this week -- to avoid potentially promising more money than it could deliver.


Thirty-two local agencies receive funds from the United Way, with 98 percent of all funds raised going to local organizations. The United Way sends out payment increments on April 1, July 1, Oct. 1 and Dec. 1.

“We told the agencies that we would like to underpromise and overdeliver,” Mitchell United Way Executive Director Dave Stevens said. “That’s what it looks like is happening. People are stepping up and we’re pleased that we will make and exceed our goal.”

The United Way asks for donations of $50, $100, $150 or $250. The allocation of money to businesses has already been decided, but the amounts are still to be determined.

According to the campaign brochure, an entry-level donation can purchase items such as a dental exam or X-ray for one child, sports equipment for one teenager for six months or to help two girls scouts attend a three-day summer camp.

A donation of $100 can fund an art project at LifeQuest, grab bars, a walker and shower chair for Independent Living Choices, training manuals for Court Appointed Special Advocate (CASA) volunteers, a half scholarship for a boy scout to attend a seven-day summer camp, Red Cross cleanup kits for five families or school supplies for a student for one year.

A donation of $150 could result in a girl scout first aid and safety course, six $25 shoe vouchers for eighth-graders at LoveFeast or an online GED prep course at Cornerstones CLC. A $250 donation would create CASA advocacy for one child for one month.

Trail King has become one of the biggest donors for the Mitchell United Way in recent years, particularly since Anderson moved to Mitchell from Watertown eight years ago. The trailer manufacturer was responsible for the most donations this year, bringing in between $30,000 and $40,000 for 2021. Trail King actively encourages employees to donate year-round and it has taken off.

“We promote it on an on-going basis,” said Anderson, Trail King vice president of human resources. “When we hire new employees, we will give them a United Way campaign form no matter what time of the year it is. We allow our employees to get into the donations any time of the year, not just one time of year. I think that really helps all of our employees understand the importance of giving back to the community.”

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