University faculty give back in Campus Charitable Fund Drive

By Andrea Flores, Staff Writer

Every year since 1929, the Office of the Chancellor sponsors the Campus Charitable Fund Drive, an event that encourages University faculty and retirees to donate to nonprofit organizations.

This year, Campus Charitable Fund Drive started Sept. 19 and ends Nov. 11. The donation goal is set at $1.3 million. According to Melinda Garrelts, program coordinator with the Office of the Chancellor, as of yesterday this year’s donations total $1,218,000.

Over 3,000 employees and retirees are anticipated to donate, and over 250 leaders promote the drive to the 14,000 employees on campus. and Garrelts said that to date, 2,900 employees and retirees have contributed to Campus Charitable Fund Drive. The average contribution is $400.

Campus Charitable Fund Drive is part of a state government employee legislation, State and University Employees Combined Appeal. The legislation strives to provide all employees with the opportunity to donate to charities of their choice.

The University is the largest giver of all state entities, Garrelts said.

“One of the reasons Campus Charitable Fund Drive is important to the Office of the Chancellor has to do with our mission as a University: enhance the lives of citizens in Illinois, across the nation and around the world,” Garrelts said. “Through the generous giving of U of I employees and retirees, the lives of others are made better.”

The Campus Charitable Fund Drive contains 12 “umbrella” agencies including the American Cancer Society, American Heart Association, America’s Charities, Black United Fund of Illinois, Community Health Charities of Illinois, Community Shares of Illinois, Earthshare Illinois, Global Impact, Independent Charities of America, Special Olympics, United Negro College Fund and United Way of Champaign County.

These umbrella agencies contain over 700 nonprofits from which University employees decide to donate to.

The United Way of Champaign County is one of the most popular agencies that University employees chose from, said Alma Sealine, vice chair on the advisory board of the Campus Charitable Fund Drive.

Garrelts said that on average, the United Way of Champaign County receives $500,000 from Campus Charitable Fund Drive. They have been a part of the drive since its beginning.

Within the United Way of Champaign County, there are 37 partner agencies that donors can choose to give to.

“People will support the ones that are more well-known, like the American Red Cross or Crisis Nursery,” United Way’s Director of Campaign Giving Nancy Suchomski said. “We lift them all, it depends on a donor’s passion.”

Suchomski notes that University employees are interested in the issues that the Champaign-Urbana community faces, leading to additional donations.

“Truly, they are by far our largest supporter in our community. We love that, I can’t say enough about how much support they give us,” Suchomski said. “It’s wonderful that they let us be a part of this great charitable fund drive.”

Sealine believes that it is important to faculty and retirees to give back to the community.

“(The Campus Charitable Fund Drive) is a way for the University to reinvest in the local community as a land-grant institution,” Sealine said.

Each department on campus has a representative that serves on the Campus Charitable Fund Drive committee, and these individuals have contests for the departments to raise money.

Sealine, as a representative for the University Housing department, hosted incentives that encourage employees to donate. This year, the department held pumpkin decorating and cookie baking contests.

Garrelts noted that charitable giving is up four percent in the country as of 2015, and that young people are more willing to give up their time rather than their money.

“(The Campus Charitable Fund Drive) is really an opportunity for people to make a difference in their community and help out others,” Garrelts said.

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