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While the holidays are a traditional time of giving for many area corporations and their employees, need knows no calendar. United Way of Westchester and Putnam, which brings together volunteers, non-profits, elected officials, and businesses to better the county’s communities, encourages its donors to extend the holiday season for others by contributing year-round to United Way’s Gifts-In-Kind program.
Gifts-In-Kind served 96 non-profit agencies with goods worth $2 million last year. More than one-third of these non-profits received goods that exceeded $5,000 in value. United Way hopes to match or better its success in the coming year.
“When you see how excited a low income mom gets when she finally has furniture for her toddler’s room, or a blanket and sheets for her teen, that’s when you realize how valuable these items are,” said Naomi Adler, United Way of Westchester and Putnam CEO and President.
The Gifts-In-Kind program receives and distributes donations from both corporations and individuals. Linked directly to local corporations as well as the largest matching gifts-in-kind corporate broker in the country (Goods360), United Way is the conduit for new goods such as diapers, household goods, and toys which are channeled to people in need through a variety of non-profits. United Way frequently even covers the cost of shipping for larger, high-demand items such as new mattresses and toys. For example, United Way matched and distributed between 4,000-5,000 Mattel toys to children in need during the holidays.
United Way also helps broker individual donations of used furniture, appliances, toys, automobiles, and boats throughout the year via its website at www.uwwp.org/gifts-in-kind.shtml. Donors send in a photo and description of their items and United Way forwards it on to their list of vetted eligible nonprofits, which can get very creative with the donations. This past summer, United Way arranged for Groundwork Hudson Valley to receive a donation from Home Depot of several hundred light fixtures.
“Rather than just give away the light fixtures to needy homeowners, we empowered our summer youth program participants to create a community education event on energy-efficient home lighting. They give a free light fixture to each attendee, and the event was so popular that we could have used hundreds more fixtures,” says Curt Collier, Deputy Director. “We appreciate the opportunity given to us by United Way and Home Depot to be creative in using the donation to extend our environmental education efforts and reach a much larger audience.”
Recipient agencies include American Cancer Society-Westchester Division, Family Services of Westchester, Greyston Foundation, Groundwork Hudson Valley, Westchester Jewish Community Services, YMCAs in Yonkers and White Plains, and several Community Action Programs, among many others.
“Although gift giving is most active during the holiday season, United Way helps encourage contributions year-round,” explains Adler. “Last year, we used only $5,000 in monetary donations to ship, deliver and connect $2 million in products to the community. That is money well spent.”
For more information on Gifts-In-Kind and other United Way donation programs, please contact Mary Ann Pero at 914-997-6700 x755 or visit the website at www.uwwp.org.
About the United Way of Westchester and Putnam
Celebrating its 50th anniversary, the United Way of Westchester and Putnam operates with the fundamental belief that all people deserve a quality education, enough income to support a family, and opportunities for good health. United Way works with agency partners, government, businesses and community leaders to solve problems that are too complex for any one entity alone. Contributions go toward improving the education, income, and health of the children, youth and families throughout Westchester and Putnam. United Way’s 2-1-1, covering Westchester and Putnam as well as Dutchess, Orange, Rockland, Sullivan and Ulster counties, answers up to 500 calls and 1,000 online inquiries per day ranging from tax, heating, and mortgage questions to childcare, basic needs, natural disaster and crisis calls. The United Way of Westchester and Putnam is located at 336 Central Park Ave., White Plains, NY 10606. They can be reached at 914-997-6700 or by visiting www.uwwp.org. Follow the United Way on Facebook (www.facebook.com/UnitedWayWP) and Twitter (@UnitedWayWP) for the latest news and updates.