The United Way of West Alabama kicked off its 75th annual fundraiser earlier this month with "United on the Plaza," a lunchtime fundraiser and LifeSouth Blood Drive at Government Plaza.

This year's fundraiser will span the entire months of October and November and aim to collect $4,175,000 for nonprofits with which the organization partners.

In 2020, UWWA set a goal to raise $4.2 million and narrowly missed their goal but still raised more than $4 million. That's without mentioning the $420,000 in COVID relief funds they raised prior to the annual fundraiser, all of which was distributed to struggling families and businesses.

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Sandra Hall Ray, Campaign Chair for UWWA, said the organization helped over 1,000 families last year through distributions from their COVID fund.

If UWWA meets this year's goal, the organization will have raised $121 million for West Alabama since their formation. Ray said the UWWA and their partner organizations assist roughly 1 out of every 4 people in West Alabama.

The City of Tuscaloosa hosted the campaign's kickoff luncheon as part of its annual contribution to UWWA. A portion of the proceeds from food purchases at the event will go directly towards this year's fundraising goal.

Jessica Jenkins, Director of Benefits and Wellness for the City, told The Thread that typically they are in the Top 25 givers to UWWA, raising between $21,000 and $25,000 for the organization annually.

"To be honest, a large percentage of our events that we've host in previous years had to be canceled or re-imagined due to COVID," Jenkins said. "But this is a great way to start. United Way is a wonderful organization and the City is eager to help out as we've done in the past."

To learn more about the United Way of West Alabama, visit the website here.

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