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United Way gets down to basics for region's needy

Sun Advocate reporter

Most in the local area know just how vital the Eastern Utah United Way is to the annual Angel Tree program, which the group coordinates and organizes here in the Castle Valley.

What comes as a surprise to many, however, is that the charity organization focuses year around on similar projects which have an impact all over the Castle Country.

Currently, the United Way is working toward celebrating President's Day by collecting hygiene essentials for individuals in the community who might not have access to the most basic of products. The collected items will then be donated to the Colleen Quigley Crisis Center, the Children's Justice Center, Active Re-Entry and the Carbon County Food Bank.

"We could not enjoy the success we have with out local programs without the community support we receive," said Carole Wright, Campaign Coordinator for the United Way of Eastern Utah. "The amount of support we get from this area's population is truly extraordinary."

The Eastern Utah United Way has been serving the Castle Valley for more than 30 years. Headquartered on Main Street in Price, Wright and director Bill Maikranz make up the local office's entire paid staff. In addition to the Angel Tree and current Essentials Drive, the local United Way participates in programs including an annual Day of Caring, the Salons for Survival drive and plans to start a reading project at Creekview and Castle Heights later this year.

"Our focus is education, income and health and we are also proud of the way this organization returns the support it gets," said Wright. "Last year we gave back to the community 78 percent of what was taken in at the local office. Our goal is 100 percent."

One of the programs which allow the United Way to have a staff and residence here in Eastern Utah is the Cornerstone project.

"The United Way could not get the resources it needs without our cornerstone partners, the corporations which allow us to conduct employee campaigns," explained Wright. "In these campaigns, employees provide a payroll deduction which is matched by their employer and then we give that deduction back to the community. We have seven partner agencies that the employee payroll deductions can go toward, and the individuals can choose who they would like to support."

In this area, Cornerstone partners include Rocky Mountain Home Health, Community Nursing Services, Active Re-Entry, Waibai Sabi (Thriftstore) and the Multicultural Center in Moab, the Sun Center and the AAA Fair Credit Foundation.

United Way has come together with VISTA to make their President's Day Essentials Drive a success.

Those interested in giving to the program can take tooth brushes and toothpaste, body wash and soap, hand towels, laundry detergent, dish soap, shampoo and conditioner and feminine hygiene products to the United Way, Walmart, Fresh Market, Smith's Food and Drug, the Carbon County Senior Center and the Jennifer Leavitt Student Center through Feb. 20.

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