Last week, Sept. 14-18, the nine United Ways of Maine kicked off its annual fundraising campaigns with a statewide food and essentials drive, collecting 37,856 pounds of food and other critical supplies for local nonprofits at 20 locations across the state. Critical supplies collected included more than 26,273 packages of diapers and wipes, bars of soap, deodorant, toothpaste, and hundreds of coats and warm weather items.

The series of events, called United for Maine, also generated more than $5,000 to support organizations and programs serving Maine people, according to a news release Michelle Boyer of the United Way of Kennebec Valley.

United Way of Mid-Maine held a drive through collection Sept. 18 at Skowhegan Community Food Cupboard. From left are UWMM President and CEO Al Smith, Resource Development Director Bethany Drouin, and Board of Directors member Jackie Dalton. Photo courtesy of United Way of Mid-Maine

These collection drives not only collected much-needed food and supplies, but also raised awareness about unmet basic needs and food insecurity — the effects of which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

“Many Mainers who have never experienced food insecurity before now find themselves visiting food pantries as they face furloughs or layoffs in the wake of the pandemic,” said Courtney Yeager, chairwoman of United Ways of Maine and executive director of UWKV, according to the release. “Our United for Maine drive showed that we’re all in this together — and anyone can make a difference with a jar of peanut butter or a small donation. If you’re in a position to help, please consider making a gift to your local United Way.”

United Ways of Maine’s mission is to support a strong network of local United Ways that improve lives and create lasting positive changes across Maine. Collectively, United Ways across Maine raise more than $18 million annually to promote health, education, and financial stability.

According to the release, United Way strategically invests in results-driven programs and initiatives to maximize the impact in local communities. Annually, United Way statewide supports more than 350 local nonprofits, improving the lives of countless Mainers. When people and businesses give to United Way, they are making an investment that benefits the entire community, not just one program, issue, or population.

To support your local United Way, visit unitedwaysofmaine.org or text “UnitedForME” to 41444.

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