The United Way of Vermillion's 2011 fundraising campaign started off with a bang last week at the second Thursdays at the Platz event.
United Way representatives said they were excited to meet with as many people as possible as they work to their $115,000 goal.
"We're just hoping to make everybody aware of what the United Way is, and that they'll dig into their hearts and their pocketbooks for all the great causes we support," said board president Deb Christensen.
The money raised will go toward the 2011 allocations as decided by the board.
"Every year in May, we have the non-profit agencies come in, and they'll make applications for funding," Christensen said. "Based on what we get for applications and what we feel we can raise in the community, we allocate certain amounts that we will be giving them in 2011. Right now, what we're doing is just kicking off how we're going to raise that money."
She added that meet-and-greet opportunities like Thursdays on the Platz are "huge" for the organization.
"I think a lot of times people have heard of United Way, but they don't actually know what it is," Christensen said. There are a lot of organizations that we fund. It's a great way to give to 20, 25 organizations in their community in one fell swoop."
Michelle Maloney, member of the Thursdays on the Platz group and downtown Vermillion business owner, said she's glad the event has provided the United Way with a public platform.
"They're a great organization, and we were honored that they felt this was a worthy event to showcase the kickoff to their campaign," she said. "It's a great collaboration between two organizations, and that's what it's all about."
Last week was the second platz event, although the first encountered some difficulties.
"We had to postpone it because we had six inches of rain in an hour and a half," Maloney said. "But I thought it went really well. We had a lot of people show up who were really happy to see it. I had a young couple who were in town from Sioux Falls, and they said, 'It makes us wish we still lived in Vermillion.' So I thought that was mission accomplished, hearing something like that."
She added that she hopes next year, Thursdays on the Platz will be expanded, so that it begins the last two weeks in June, and concludes midway through August.
"We're just giving folks a reason to come downtown and see the new plaza and use what they paid for," Maloney said.
Christensen said the United Way board is glad they could be a part of the event.
"We're excited, because this is a new thing," she said. "I hope this is successful. We're just excited to piggyback onto it. I think doing this together is going to bring awareness to several groups."
For more information about the United Way, visit www.unitedwayofvermillion.org.