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This article was published 17/12/2009 (2750 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.
Hundreds of kids who frequent Rossbrook House are counting on Winnipeggers digging a little deeper into their pockets this year.
The inner-city drop-in is one of the United Way's sponsored agencies, but with only a couple of weeks left until its annual fundraising deadline, the city-wide charity is falling $1.5 million short of its $18.2-million goal.
Jeff Zabudsky, the 2009 campaign chairman for the United Way, said if it doesn't reach its goal, this will be the first time in the organization's 44-year history a campaign will raise less money than the previous year. Last year, the United Way met its goal of $17.9 million. Zabudsky said the United Way's fundraising goals are based on what it will cost to maintain an essential network of social programs and services in Winnipeg.
He said he is amazed by the generosity of Winnipeggers. However, tough economic times have made this year an especially difficult one for the people who use United Way agencies.
"More than ever, this is the year that we need Winnipeggers to step up," Zabudsky said. "The need is greater than ever and we're afraid that if we don't make our goal, there will be significant impact to the nearly 100 different United Way agencies."
Executive director Sister Maria Vigna said Rossbrook House, which serves about 330 kids, relies heavily on funds from the United Way.
"Our centre sees between 100 to 150 kids walk through the doors and use the drop-in centre on any given day," Vigna said. "The United Way is one of our three key sponsors. If we lost their funding, it would be a great loss to all of us."
The drop-in centre at 658 Ross Ave. also serves as an alternative education program for kids during the day. It keeps kids in the area engaged, giving them an alternative safe place to hang out away from the streets.
Rossbrook House is open from 7:30 a.m. until midnight every day and stays open 24 hours during school closures, like Christmas holidays and summer vacation.
Zabudsky's plea, on the heels of Manitoba residents being named Canada's most generous for the 10th year in a row by the Fraser Institute, is for Manitobans to give just a little bit more.
"If you have a job and you are secure," he said, "think about the people who rely on the services that the United Way provides. No gift is too small.
"The United Way isn't one thing," Zabudsky said. "The United Way is a network of services that are woven into the fabric of our community. A donation to the United Way is an investment to a healthy community, and that benefits everybody."
Anyone wishing to give to the United Way can make donations directly on its website at www.unitedwaywinnipeg.mb.ca or call 477-5360.