Serving Gogebic, Iron and Ontonagon Counties

United Way fund drive underway


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Ironwood — The Gogebic Range United Way fund-drive campaign for 2021 is underway, despite being forced to cancel its annual fundraising dinner, because of COVID-19 restrictions on large gatherings. The organization raises monies to give to local nonprofit charities, in Gogebic and Ontonagon counties, as well as Iron County, Wisconsin.

“We would hope that the community continues to support this agency, who in turn supports the below agencies in our local area,” Cindy Simmons, director of the GRUW told the Daily Globe.

This year the United Way, which does not receive government funding and is strictly funding by donations, will be supporting 16 different organizations who have applied for funding.

Those organizations are:

—Bay Cliff Health Camp

—Voyageurs Boy Scouts

—Ironwood Theatre

—Big Brothers Big Sisters

—Salvation Army

—Iron County Senior Center

—Keenagers Corporation

—Gogebic County UM Extension 4-H Programs

—Gogebic County Search and Rescue

—Peninsula Waters Girl Scouts

—New Beginnings

—Restoration of Breech Pantry

—Iron County Wisconsin UW Extension 4H Programs

—Gogebic Ontonagon Community Action Agency

—Stepping Stones 4U

—NICER Community Garden Group

In past years the United Way has supported up to 19 organizations. However this year three of the organizations they typically support: the Carnegie Library, Range Strikers, and the Victims Service Unit decided not to apply for funding again, as they were unable to use the funds they had received this year, because of the COVID-19 pandemic and have already earmarked those funds for next year.

“A lot of people just didn’t follow through with the applications this year,” Simmons said. “This whole year has been so weird. I just don’t think people know what to do this year.”

Simmons said she encouraged all organizations reapply anyways and just do something even bigger in 2021. However she said that the agencies declined to apply as they felt they did not need the additional funds at this time.

“The Range Strikers couldn’t even get the kids onto the soccer field this year, so they still had their money and with the Library since they are not able to get kids into the library because of COVID, she (Lynne Wiercinski, director of the Ironwood Carnegie Library) didn’t feel right trying to promote some kind of programs,” Simmons said.

This is the first year that the United Way will be sponsoring the Northern Iron County Engaged Residents Community Garden Group. According to Simmons the garden group is working on developing a garden in Montreal, Wisconsin, and they are looking for funding to get the fencing and “whatnot” to create the garden. She said that the group had broke ground but now they need to put things together so that the “predators and stuff” won’t get into their garden.

“Any other community that I have seen that has a community garden is kind of a cool thing. You know you get people out there and they are out there doing stuff that they like together. They have a common interest and they are out there doing there thing and sharing their stories and their expertise,” Simmons said.

The United Way is trying to raise $35,000 this year. Simmons said they generally give $30,000 to the sponsored agencies. All agencies that they sponsor must be a non-profit 501-(c)(3). Along with the sponsored agencies the United Way also gives to the six different local food pantries. Simmons said they will be giving $2,000 to food pantries this fall including the Ironwood, Bessemer and Ontonagon St. Vincent De Paul, Union Station, Iron County and Mercer food pantries. She said that people tend to give to the food pantries during the holidays and the spring, so they like to just give to them at a random time of year.

“We usually try to help them out and usually we try to help them out at a time when no one else is helping,” Simmons said. “It’s just nice to help out agencies that are in dire need.”

The funding for the 16 agencies will be dispensed in two payments to them. The first half will go out in January and the second half in June. The food pantries will receive their monies sometime after Thanksgiving.

She said that while donations that the United Way sees monthly are down, they are able to survive and continue to help organizations thanks to some really generous donors. Donations can be mailed to the Gogebic Range United Way P.O. Box 248, Ironwood, MI 49938.