President's Corner: 'Tis the season to be generous

by UWNEMN Board President Paul Janssen

Ho ho ho!  Jolly ol’ St. Paul here! Nah, I’m no saint, but it fit the picture! The holidays are here, and 2020 is just around the corner. ‘Tis the season to be generous, and as the Board President for United Way of Northeastern Minnesota, I’m hoping you will consider supporting United Way in your end-of-the-year donations. Sure, it is fun to RECEIVE during this season.  But the real joy for me is the GIVING

You know by now from reading my columns this year that my involvement with United Way started because I love the Buddy Backpack program. I continue to be floored by the number of local children who are in need. The program is serving an all-time high of 1,092 children in our service territory.  This program is near and dear to me and my wife, Kris. We have a hard time imagining so many kids not having enough to eat over the weekends, so we do our part to both volunteer and financially contribute to this wonderful program.

More than 37,000 Buddy Backpack meal kits will be assembled this year by volunteers resembling Santa’s elves. Unlike at the North Pole, though, the food in the kits doesn’t get magically made by the elves. United Way purchases all of the food for the meal kits, keeping the whole kit cost to $5.

Do the math. If you donate $50 to United Way this year, that provides 10 meal kits for hungry Iron Range children. That’s easy enough to do. No amount is too small. All of it helps. And all of it stays local. Every time a meal kit or a hygiene kit gets delivered to a child in need, it’s like a special delivery from Santa himself.

At our companies, we recently held our annual United Way employee giving campaign. My heart is warmed when we speak to employees and others in the community and they just “get it” about United Way. This organization is like no other on the Range. Kris and I had special thank yous this year for those at our companies who have supported United Way. It’s one way that we can show our appreciation for our generous employees’ gifts. We have incentive drawings at our company for the campaign. Sure, it’s fun to win “crap” like TVs, vacation time, and gift cards for donating, but it is also fun to give purely for the sake of giving. Whatever your reason for giving to United Way, I want you to know that Kris and I personally thank you all.

Kris and I have noticed that this year seems particularly tough for a lot of local families. This holiday season, I am asking you to help out some local children. You don’t have to give a lot to make a big difference.  To make a donation to support the United Way, mail donations to 608 East Drive in Chisholm 55719, or click here.

Happy holidays from United Way and the Janssens!  Your holiday spirit, generosity, and support truly make the season bright!