United Way Kicks Off New Campaign

By Kendra Yagow

September 10, 2010 Updated Sep 10, 2010 at 9:36 PM CDT

Officials of the United Way say hunger in the Peoria area has risen 30 percent in this year alone.

That's why that issue has been selected as their campaign for 2010.

Supporters of the Heart of Illinois United Way were treated to a hearty breakfast - but it also served as a powerful visual reminder.

Their 2010 campaign was launched Friday, one that will concentrate on solving hunger issues.

University of Illinois basketball coach Bruce Weber, who spoke at Friday's events, says the only way these programs can get off the ground is through volunteers from the community.

"And then you have the donors, and those are the fans - the people that are there providing and helping and volunteering and things like that, so when you put it all together we need everybody to be successful and when that happens everybody wins," said Weber.

In Pekin, the police department was getting a head start.

They delivered 13 thousand pounds of food to volunteers for distribution.

They say it was an effort put on by all of the town's government agencies, and they had plenty of motivation to make them give generously.

"We had kind of a friendly competition between department heads, I think the ones who weren't as generous have to dye their hair a certain color this year," said Officer Mike Sanders.

That's a substantial chunk out of the United Way's goal to collect 60 to 70 tons of food.

Back at the breakfast, chairman Mark Spenny announced a financial goal of 9 million dollars.

He says that's an ambitious goal, and so first they'll concentrate on having a stronger showing in the community.

"Understand how effective these programs are in meeting the needs of the community, and motivating those we can in our community to step up," said Spenny.

But with 364 more days to make the goal a reality, Spenny says they're off to a strong start.

To date, the 2010 Heart of Illinois Campaign had raised over $1.1 million.

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