UCSC Nabs Gold and Platinum awards for United Way and Second Harvest workplace campaigns

University community honored for contributions to community organizations

Despite uncertain economic times, UC Santa Cruz once again made it into the Top-5 list of workplace contributors to the United Way of Santa Cruz County and also earned a Platinum Can Award from Second Harvest Food Bank for its donations.

Some 240 UCSC faculty and staff donated $48,000 to the United Way this year, earning the university a Gold Award in the process. The amount is impressive considering the current economic environment, said Anne Cawley, director of community giving and marketing for the United Way.

“The consistency of support from UCSC is so important to us,” Cawley said. “It is only with that consistency that we can really promise our programs that, yes, the money is coming.”

The United Way of Santa Cruz County raises and invests money from individuals and corporations to support a broad range of programs in the area. More than $1 million was collected this year. 

Money raised will fund projects that touch nearly one out of three people in Santa Cruz County, Cawley said.  Among them is a prescription drug discount program that generated more than $1 million in savings for over 10,000 low-income families last year and a Suicide Help Line which drew 4,000 calls, many of them from teens.  In addition, 15 homeless families headed by women were given a roof over their heads; the women received training to help break the barriers that kept them and their families on the street.

In all, 40 health- and human-service programs are helped with funds from the United Way.

 “These programs provide a safety net for people who are the most vulnerable in our community,” Cawley said.  “Not just for people who are down and out, but for people who are trying to change their lives.”

“When you have a job in this economy, it feels good to be able to give back to those who are not so fortunate,” said Fiona Weigant, administrative assistant for the vice-chancellor for research.  She was one of four people who headed UCSC’s United Way Drive on campus.

The award were presented at 11:30 a.m. March 29 at the Cocoanut Grove Sunroom.

Second Harvest Food Bank, which distributes 7.3 million pounds of food each year to working poor families, children and seniors, also honored UCSC for its contributions during an award celebration March 7 at the former Wrigley Building. 

Campus faculty, staff and students provided 44,085 pounds of food during the holiday drive, according to John Steele, program analyst for Information Technology Services and chairperson of the Staff Advisory Board. Steele also was feted as one of two Coordinators of the Year.

Collection barrels, along with donation envelopes, were set out on campus. Student also could donate with FlexiDollars or from their meal plans. Steele said he was pleased with the 2011 drive, but planned to work to increase the amount of food donated during next year’s event.