UA Cares gets kicked off with a virtual fair
Much like many high-profile events on the University calendar, the UA Cares campaign will look different this year. However, the mission of the University's annual workplace giving campaign may be more important than ever, says Karla Bernal Morales, who coordinates the campaign.
This year's campaign runs Oct. 1-Nov. 6. Employees will once again have the option of supporting University programs by donating to the University of Arizona Foundation or contributing to local nonprofit organizations through the United Way of Tucson and Southern Arizona.
The UA Cares kickoff event – normally a large celebration where representatives from 25-30 nonprofits talk about their services with attendees – will be held virtually on Oct. 1 at 9 a.m. Anyone can attend, but registration is required.
The event will include an agency fair and breakout sessions covering areas of need like education and health. Each session will feature up to five nonprofits or University offices serving those needs. Participants will hear from President Robert C. Robbins, the campaign's honorary chair, in a video message. They also will be eligible to win prizes, including a stay at a local resort valued at $750.
Morales, who is also the director of the Office of Multicultural Advancement, says the pandemic has increased the community's need for certain services and also has strengthened employees' resolve to help. She says when people participate in a charitable campaign, they often consider it "us helping them" – but as the pandemic impacts almost every aspect of life, the need can hit closer to home.
Organizers are encouraging people to donate online. Employees can set up one-time payments or recurring payroll deductions through UAccess by using the UA Cares tile on the employee homepage. Morales says employees also can fill out a paper pledge form and send it to the Martin Luther King Jr. Student Center, Room 316, 1322 E. First St., Tucson, AZ 85721, to the attention of Karla Morales. While donors can give directly to the nonprofit of their choice, Morales says they are strongly encouraged to designate their gift to the United Way Community Impact Fund to ensure the donation stays in the local community.
The campaign will also include its traditional volunteer component through the United Way's Days of Caring program. This year's lineup of opportunities includes options for participants to safely give back to their community. Some projects allow volunteers to participate close to home – for example, creating positive sidewalk chalk art displays or cleaning up neighborhoods – while others, like supply drives and gardening projects, will include safety protocols. A list of available projects – plus an option to create and complete your own project – is available on the United Way website.
Since UA Cares began in 2004, the effort has raised about $6.1 million in monetary donations. Morales says the principal goal of this year's campaign is to increase participation. Despite pandemic-related challenges, Morales says she is confident this year's campaign will be a success.
"In times of need, we tend to come together and become unified in creating a supportive environment," Morales said. "We feel a need to support each other."