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United Way beginning fundraising campaign with a party

Without its support, one charitable organization in Jamestown said many groups in the area would go without.

That's why the United Way in Jamestown's goal is to raise $185,000 this year, and it's trying different ways to achieve it.

United Way is looking to kick-start its annual fundraising campaign, and this year, it's added a little extra "fun."

That's one of the ideas behind the "Be a lifesaver" event set for Thursday.

Unlike previous years, United Way is hosting a dinner and game-night for families at the Knights of Columbus Hall in Jamestown. The evening will include games, prizes and pulled-pork sandwiches in a setting similar to a school carnival in a gymnasium, said Ben Shannon, president of the United Way in Jamestown.

To Vice President Lynette Stoddart, the event gives the community a chance to learn what United Way is all about.

"The kickoff is getting people excited about the campaign," Shannon said.

The annual campaign supports local organizations like the Buffalo Valley Chapter of the American Red Cross, Salvation Army and Arts After School program at the Arts Center. It also supports lesser known agencies like James River Alanon for those struggling with alcohol abuse and Family Bridges, an organization that assists families struggling with sharing custody.

Those agencies don't necessarily top the list when considering where to donate.

"Some of the agencies that we cover, if we didn't help them out, nobody would," Shannon said.

One of the new agencies receiving assistance this year is the Great Plains Assistance Dog Foundation, based in Jud, N.D. The foundation assists physically-challenged individuals with gaining greater independence with the help of a trained assistance dog

Child Care Resource and Referral is another agency that receives assistance from United Way. United Way gives it about $2,500 annually and the money is used for to recruit new programs and retain existing programs, said Verla Jung, child care consultant.

Child Care Resource and Referral assists families in their search for quality child care, supports programs that care for children and builds connections in communities to generate understanding and activism for child care issues.

It's an organization many of the employees at Noridian Administrative Services use when looking for daycare for their children, Shannon said. He is the manager there. Finding quality child care is valuable to a community and to an employee, Shannon said.

The biggest donors to United Way are employers, he said, in part because their employees are the recipients of many of the services United Way supports. And of that support, 99 percent of it stays local, Shannon said.

"I think it's important to start at home," he said.

But individuals are welcome to donate too. If they can't make it to the kick-off, Stoddart said, perhaps they can make it to other fundraisers set for later this year.

Tickets for the United Way kick-off are $10 for adults, $5 for children under 12 and $25 per family. The event begins at 4:30 p.m. Sept. 15 at the Knights of Columbus Hall.

Sun reporter Katie Ryan-Anderson can be reached at 701-952-8454 or by email at kryan-anderson