Director Amy Franz, center, was joined Saturday by Courtney Schreiner, volunteer coordinator for United Way, and Allison Franz, right, in collecting hundreds of items to be distributed to families in need throughtout Butler County.
As vehicles rolled up to the organization's brightly decorated pop-up tent, a crew of volunteers waved and eagerly stepped forward Saturday to collect a variety of assembled kits and other donations that will soon be distributed across Butler County.
“People were pleased that they could help,” said Amy Franz, Butler Region director of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “We're grateful that we made this opportunity available for them and we're hopeful we will be able to do it again so that they can make more kits and bring them”
The agency hosted the special Day of Caring to not only collect the donated items, but also engage volunteers from across the region. Volunteers could choose from four projects and drop them off to the United Way at one of its three offices in Butler, Allegheny, and Westmoreland counties.
More 50 individuals dropped off over 200 items at the organization's office on West Jefferson Street. The organization will distribute donated items to its agency partners.
Volunteers could choose one or more of the simple projects, which included making homemade cards for area senior citizens, putting together personal protection packs and baby supplies packs, and creating fun summer activity kits for local youth.
All donated items were in sealed gallon-size plastic bags.
“Volunteerism is essential to United Way's mission of supporting vulnerable populations across our region,” said Wendy Koch, director of volunteer engagement at United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania. “COVID-19 forced us to find new and innovative ways to engage our volunteer community, and more and more people are asking how they can help.”
United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania serves Allegheny, Butler, Westmoreland, Fayette, and southern Armstrong counties.
Coming on the heels of Saturday's collections across the region, the organization also announced the launch of another initiative aimed at continuing its efforts to assist communities struggling with food insecurity throughout the summer.
Made possible by the Steelers organization, including the Rooney family, Lebda family and ownership, coaches and players from the Steelers, the agency's is partnering with the Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank to build an expanded network of food providers that can fill gaps in high-need communities this summer — including Butler County.
“I am pleased that Steelers ownership, coaches and players have come together to partner with the United Way to support these efforts to address food insecurity throughout the region,” said Art Rooney II, Steelers president.
Starting this month, the program will establish 33 distribution sites with the goal of providing more than 44,000 meals over the coming months. Food will be distributed to children in communities that are at the highest risk of continued food insecurity.
Locally, United Way will continue its work with Butler Area School District to support its summer meal program.
Between March and April, United Way's 2-1-1 helpline received nearly 2,300 contacts for food assistance, quadruple the number of requests for food assistance compared to the same time last year.
“The pandemic has deeply impacted thousands of children in our area and millions around the country,” said Bobbi Watt Geer, president and CEO of United Way of Southwestern Pennsylvania.
“We're grateful to the Steelers organization for their generosity and for recognizing this critical need in our community. Food will continue to be a large concern over the next several months as this situation further unfolds.”