A record-setting crowd ambled into the Kamloops Convention Centre on Tuesday, Sept. 24, to attend the 2013 United Way Kickoff Breakfast.
There were so many people, in fact — 523 — that two breakfast lines were set up outside the banquet room.
The annual event held early in the morning is always a bustling affair as the business community in Kamloops and outlying areas meet to pledge support to the United Way, which helps myriad agencies and programs throughout the Thompson, Nicola and Cariboo regions.
Executive director Brenda Aynsley detailed some of the work the United Way has done and continues to do — including in-school mentoring of more than 300 students; helping 174 high-school students take part in Youth Day of Caring; awarding 16 youth-initiative grants; buying five sport wheelchairs for disabled athletes; helping create three neighbourhood associations; partnering with the Kamloops Homelessness Plan; and arranging eight Kamloops Rent Bank loans.
In 2012, the United Way raised $2.2 million, which was $200,000 more than its goal of $2 million.
This year, the organization is again aiming to raise $2 million for worthy causes — and it got a massive boost at the breakfast via corporate pledges:
• Highland Valley Copper will donate a maximum of $300,000 through its program of matching employee donations dollar for dollar.
• CN Rail will donate $21,675.
• Kelson Group will donate $15,000.
• Canadian Tire will donate more than $10,000 ($3,300 plus proceeds from staff members donating one day’s wages).
• KGHM Ajax will donate $10,000.
• Royal Bank of Canada will donate $11,000.
• CIBC branches in Kamloops, Logan Lake, 100 Mile House and Williams Lake will donate $6,000.
• HMZ Law will donate $5,000.
• Moly-Cop will donate $5,000.
• Scotiabank downtown branch will donate $3,550.
• Bank of Montreal will donate $3,500.
• TRU Sports Lounge will donate 100 per cent of all proceeds from food sales on Sunday, Sept. 29.
In addition, a number of companies have pledged to match employee donations at 100 per cent and 50 per cent levels.
The kickoff breakfast also recognized last year’s fundraising efforts, with a number of awards handed out:
• Largest Regional Employee Campaign: CEP Local 10B at Domtar ($76,904).
• Largest Cariboo Corporate and Employee Campaign: Gibraltar Mines ($100,000-plus).
• Quantum Leap Award (largest year-to-year increase in contributions): United Steelworkers at Canfor Vavenby ($5,600 to $20,000).
• Largest Regional Campaign Corporate: Highland Valley Copper.
• Regional Rookie Award: District of Clearwater ($3,000).
• Highest Per Capita Giving Award: Bank of Montreal Columbia Street Branch (41 employees).
• Largest Regional Employer Campaign: Highland Valley Copper/United Steelworker Local 7619 ($335,000-plus).
• Kamloops Rookie Campaign: Lafarge
• Most Fun Special Event: Finning Canada
• Greatest Impact Special Event: Jail and Bail (raised $32,000 in 2011 and $92,000 in 2012).
For more information on the United Way’s efforts in the Kamloops area, go online to www.unitedway.tnc.ca.