United Way advances the common good by creating opportunities for a better life for all. Through your investment, United Way is able to address the critical needs that matter most to you and our community and create a meaningful difference in people’s lives by: investing in nonprofit health and human service programs and services that address the most critical needs and deliver the greatest impact possible; implementing community impact initiatives and support year round programs that address new and emerging needs; and, forming strategic partnerships and collaborations—sharing responsibility and accountability for delivering meaningful and long-lasting results.
Our focus is on education, income and health – the building blocks for a good quality of life.
PROGRAMS OF UNITED WAY OF BEMIDJI AREA
In the Bemidji area, 1 in 5 children experience food insecurity and hunger. The Backpack Buddies program was developed to help ensure that children in the Bemidji school district have access to nutritious, non-perishable and easy-to-prepare food at times when other resources are not available, such as weekends and school vacations.
The program provides backpacks filled with food that is child friendly, non-perishable, and easily consumed free of charge. An average weekly menu consists of: 2 entrees, 1 snack, 2 breakfast items, 1 vegetable, 2 fruits, and 2 milks, and 1 high protein item. The food is purchased from the North Country Food Bank and community groups and volunteers package the food each month.
The food packs are discretely distributed to children, as best determined by the school, on the last day before weekends and all scheduled school breaks/holiday breaks.
Thanks to Sanford Health, the program has expanded to feed more than 450 children, who have been referred by school staff as experiencing food insecurity or hunger, each weekend and school break. The program currently serves all Bemidji school district schools.
COATS FOR THE COMMUNITY
Each year donations of gently used, clean winter coats and outerwear for men, women, children and infants are collected. More than 3,000 cold-weather items are collected and distributed to our Bemidji neighbors to keep them warm and dry during the winter.
HOLIDAY GIFTS FOR KIDS
Each year between 800 and 1000 children, ages 0-16, experience a joyful Christmas thanks to the generosity and kindness of others. Parents or legal guardians register for the Holiday Gifts for Kids program and have the opportunity to choose a gift for their child on distribution day. In addition, each family receives a board game to enjoy together.
SOMEONE SPECIAL VOLUNTEERS
United Way of Bemidji Area partners with Ken K. Thompson Jewelry, KB101 Radio, and The Bemidji Pioneer, to recognize the value of volunteerism.
The Someone Special Volunteer Program provides an opportunity for any individual, organization, business, or group, to recognize up to two volunteers who have made a difference within the community through volunteering.