Faculty and staff collected $29,000 in donations during the past month for the Abilene-based, non-profit organization, United Way.
Clint Buck, director of Financial Operations at ACU, was in charge of coordinating United Way donations this year. He said the ACU staff has donated money to the organization each holiday season since 1996.
“Very few people can support a charity by themselves, and so this is a neat way for United Way to aggregate the money and pull it together and get more leverage out of that,” Buck said.
Buck said the university surpassed its goal to raise more than last year’s total of $28,000. He said a diversity of faculty and staff, from senior administrators to professors, donated to the cause, even if it was just a one-time donation of $5.
“What that suggests to me is that the message is resonating with people and they want to help however they can,” Buck said. “We’re a very generous community here.”
United Way development director Maria Murray said the non-profit serves as a fundraising arm for the community.
“We raise dollars to serve the community, and then the community decides where those dollars go,” Murray said.
United Way puts together two teams of people from the community to help distribute funds to different organizations in need. One team consists of 50 to 60 people in all walks of life – from employed to retired – that process the interviews for different non-profits requesting money. The other team is a financial team made up of bankers and accountants that make sure each program efficiently uses the money it receives.
“We have academics, many of our faculty and staff are involved in this decision-making process, but also people who work in the school district, work in the city, people who are really hands-on and help decide how these funds are allocated,” Buck said.
Bethany Ashlock, impact director at United Way, said the donations received this year are going to be distributed to 24 programs supported by non-profits across Abilene. These include programs like the After School Program at the Boys & Girls Club of Abilene and Child Care Connection at YMCA Abilene.
Murray said ACU and United Way have had a close partnership for a long time.
“It’s really great to see how the leadership of ACU has kind of instilled that into its students and then its students participating with us,” Murray said.
Overall, Buck said being in charge of these donations was an eye-opening experience for him.
“Often, I get busy with just the work that I do and with my family that I forget that there are others that are much less fortunate,” Buck said. “It’s made me much more thankful for all that I’ve been blessed with both personally and professionally.”
Ashlock said it is important for students to invest in their community.
“ACU is a longstanding pillar of Abilene and it’s important because you all are up-and-coming leaders as college students,” Ashlock said.
Students interested in supporting United Way can text “IMPACT” to 80088 to donate $10 and join their mobile team.