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United Way to the rescue…

United Way Launching Dedicated COVID-19 Response Fund to Support Needs in Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties

First $100K in Donations to be Matched Dollar-for-Dollar by Benton Community Foundation and Local Businesses

CORVALLIS, Ore. – The United Way of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties announced today it has started a dedicated fund to meet the needs of vulnerable community members and the nonprofits that serve them in the face of the COVID-19 crisis. The first $100,000 in donations received will be matched dollar-for-dollar, thanks to pledges from ATI Specialty Alloys & Components, Benton Community Foundation, Central Willamette Credit Union, OFD Foods and PacificSource.

“The United Way has a long history of helping the most vulnerable among us by partnering with organizations in the communities we serve,” said Blake Pang, President and CEO of United Way of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties. “This new fund will allow us to provide critical funding, fast, to the organizations in our region that need it most as the COVID-19 crisis unfolds.”

The funds raised will provide emergency support to community organizations serving vulnerable populations. The goal of this fundraising drive is to keep these organizations running at full capacity during the COVID-19 crisis. The Benton Community Foundation (BCF) provided the spark for this fundraising effort after an anonymous donor came forward with a $50,000 gift. This $50,000 will be used to match funds raised to benefit organizations based in Benton County.

“Community organizations in Benton County providing critical services need help to weather this storm,” said Chris Quaka, President and CEO of BCF. “Funds raised today are critical to meet the acute need for services. We encourage Benton County residents to give what they can. Every gift makes a difference.”

The need to maintain social distancing in response to the pandemic is leading to widespread loss of income. It is severely impacting the efforts of local nonprofits to operate, maintain healthy environments for their staffs and clients and fundraise to keep operations going. Local nonprofits that support at-risk populations such as families living in poverty and people facing homelessness are already experiencing a surge in demand. These groups have seen a reduction in the availability of regular volunteers, many of whom are retired older people warned to stay home. Added to these challenges are the substantial unplanned expenses related to cleaning facilities frequently to deter the spread of the virus.

Many local nonprofits normally hold spring fundraisers that provide essential funds to keep them operating the rest of the year. Canceling these events due to social distancing guidelines represents a collective loss of millions of dollars typically raised at these events to meet community needs.

Disbursements to nonprofits will become available as early as next week through an expedited grant application process. Funds will be paid to organizations over the next six months. The hope is to raise sufficient funds to provide financial stability for local nonprofits once the COVID-19 crisis has subsided.

People can donate to the local COVID-19 response effort either through BCF at

www.bcfgives.org/covid19 or the United Way at www.unitedwaylbl.org/donate. No administrative costs will be deducted by BCF or United Way from donations related to COVID- 19 relief. Both organizations also encourage people to donate directly to the community nonprofits they regularly support. Those who had planned to attend now-canceled fundraising events are encouraged to donate to those organizations in support of their missions.

The United Way is also maintaining a list of resources for community members seeking support during the COVID-19 crisis: www.unitedwaylbl.org/covid-19resources. This list provides resources for community members who need emergency food supplies, temporary shelter or direct financial assistance.

“In this time of unprecedented need and uncertainty, we must step up and help each other,” added Pang. “Our region is a wonderful place to call home, in large part because of the generosity of our community members and the strength of our nonprofits. We can get through this together.”

Benton Community Foundation serves as hub in Benton County for local philanthropy, connecting resources with community needs. Founded 67 years ago to provide scholarship funds, the Foundation has expanded to serve basic and immediate needs as well as driving lasting solutions to ongoing, complex issues facing our community.

United Way of Linn, Benton & Lincoln Counties strives to improve lives from Cascades to Coast. Since 1955, it has reinvested locally raised money into local communities. Its mission is to mobilize the resources and people of our communities in collective action to address our most pressing challenges.

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