Canam donates to United Way

Representatives from Canam Steel Co. stand with Kim Strubberg of the Franklin County Area United Way Tuesday, Oct. 13. Canam donated to the United Way’s 2020 campaign. Back row, from left, are Mark Mullen, plant manager; John Arnold, production; John Studdard, union representative, Local 8139; Matt Blackwell, production supervisor; and Jim Glamann, engineering manager. Front row, from left, are Kim Strubberg, United Way executive director; Mindy Briscoe, lead operator; Alicia Ferkel, HR administrator; Gary Cardinali, USW Local 8139 president; and Jenny Risley, HR manager.

Canam Steel employees have given a big boost to the Franklin County Area United Way’s fundraising efforts, according to United Way Executive Director Kim Strubberg.

The company’s 196 employees gave $14,000 to the annual campaign, which Strubberg describes as one of the largest corporate gifts to this year’s campaign.

“We are just really thankful to the employees of Canam Steel. They just knocked it out of the park this year,” said Strubberg, who noted that this is the company’s second year of supporting the United Way.

Last year, Canam Steel employees donated $5,000 toward the campaign.

“I was a little fearful about whether we would be able to match last year,” said Jennifer Risley, human resources manager for the company.

Canam employees raised the funds through payroll deductions and donating cash.

“Our company is really thankful that we haven’t had to make cuts like other companies. In fact, we are busier than ever. We know that the support of the community is the foundation of our success, so we are proud to support the 53 agencies who benefit from the United Way because we know that all of our employees benefit from those agencies in different ways,” Risley said.

Strubberg said Canam Steel’s contribution to the 2020 campaign comes at a “crucial time,” and she and the other United Way campaign volunteers were excited to learn about it.

“Our theme this year is ‘Improving Lives Now More Than Ever,’ and that is so true. The need is so huge right now,” Strubberg said. She said preliminary funding requests from the partner agencies are higher than requests filed last year.

Due to COVID-19 and the economic uncertainty created by the pandemic, United Way officials did not announce a monetary goal for the 2020 campaign.

Compared with the 2019 campaign, which netted more than $1.2 million for the United Way, Strubberg says the 2020 campaign is “down significantly.”

Since 2013, the local United Way has raised more than $1 million per year with the 2018 and 2019 campaigns funding more than $1,025,000 in requests from partner organizations.

While some may say the outlook for the 2020 campaign looks grim, Strubberg said there are lots of positives.

“We have had people who have doubled the size of their gifts. People who in the past donated $25 are giving $50, people who donated $1,000 last year are donating $2,000 this year,” Strubberg said.

The pandemic forced the annual “Power of the Purse” auction fundraiser to be moved online. The fundraiser raised $8,200 for United Way.

The annual golf tournament, which was held earlier this month, raised $26,000, a significant increase over last year’s event.

Strubberg said although many local companies are continuing to find ways to continue their sizable support for United Way, small donors — people who give $5, $10, $25 or $50 — are vital.

“If everyone in Franklin County gave just $5 — oh, the things we could accomplish,” Strubberg said. “A $5 donation could help a local food pantry buy 50 pounds of food because they have that kind of buying power. A $10 donation could give someone free legal services. A $50 donation could buy a protective riding helmet for one of the children in need at Exceptional Equestrians.”

She added, “I fully understand that lots of people are struggling right now. It is those small gifts that make a huge difference.”

The annual campaign was expected to conclude Oct. 31, but Strubberg said it will likely be extended through Nov. 13.

Those who wish to contribute to this year’s campaign can donate by phone, 636-239-1018; by sending a check made payable to the Franklin County Area United Way to P.O. Box 3, Washington, MO 63090; or by donating online through PayPal. More information about the United Way campaign and its member agencies can be found online at franklincountyuw.org.

While Strubberg acknowledges that it may be difficult to match last year’s campaign total, she said she would be “thrilled, elated, thankful” if a surge in support brings this year’s campaign to last year’s levels.

Strubberg said, “I would be feeling all of those emotions, but I would just be so thankful because I know it would only have been made possible because of everyone’s generosity.”