The University of Guelph community has contributed $606,500 to this year’s United Way campaign.

The results were announced at a volunteer luncheon today by co-chairs Rich Moccia, associate vice-president, research (strategic partnerships), and Kim Best, department and undergraduate secretary in the Department of Biomedical Sciences.

Today’s total exceeds the University’s $600,000 goal, said Moccia, and is expected to rise as late receipts are counted.

“This is the third year in a row that the University community has topped $600,000 in giving to the United Way, and the sixth year that our giving total has been more than a half-million dollars,” Moccia said.

“Our success is a testament to the commitment of University faculty, staff, students and retirees to support our neighbours and friends in the greater Guelph area.”

Added Best: “Every year more people turn to the United Way agencies funded by our donations, and the U of G campaign provides a much-needed helping hand. I think everyone involved in the University campaign – donors and volunteers – give because they care about the needs of others in our society and want to help people in the communities where we live.”

Ken Dardano, executive director of United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin, told U of G volunteers that they run one of the top university campaigns in Canada. “It comes down to a giving spirit, and what’s important to you as individuals and members of our community.”

A number of University awards were presented at the United Way recognition event. The President’s Award, which recognizes the campus unit with the highest increase in both participation and dollars raised, went to the Department of Pathobiology, which saw a 45-per-cent increase in participation and 99-per-cent increase in overall giving.

The Gabrielle Hubert Award for outstanding contributions by an individual volunteer was presented to Prof. Alan Sullivan, a long-time United Way volunteer in the Department of Plant Agriculture and a former co-chair of the campus steering committee.

The Department of Geography fundraising team received the Spirit Award for achieving a high rate of participation, achieving their goal and raising awareness during their annual used book sale, a flagship fundraising event at the University.

The Co-Chairs Award for special merit was presented to Rob Laird, manager of business operations in Student Housing Services. He works behind the scenes to track campaign progress and ensure the accuracy of U of G payroll contributions to the United Way.

Student co-chairs for the 2014 fundraising drive are undergraduates Remy Marlatt, marketing management, and Meghan Doherty, arts and science. They announced student contributions in excess of $11,000.

Marlatt and Doherty presented this year’s Student Achievement Award to the Student Federation of the Ontario Agricultural College for the most dollars raised by a single group: $4,000, which was almost twice their goal. The Peer Helper Program in Student Affairs received the Student Spirit Award recognizing students who raised awareness and dollars by hosting a successful fun fair.

“We are proud of the support shown by Guelph students,” said Best. “I want to thank all student volunteers for their enthusiasm and encourage them to continue to think about the United Way wherever they go after graduating from U of G.”

Certificates of appreciation were also presented to United Way canvassers and co-ordinators on the front-line fundraising team.

The co-chairs thanked TD Canada Trust, Staples, Bob Housser Photography, U of G Parking Services and Open Ed for providing grand prizes in an incentive draw open to all U of G donors.

The co-chairs also recognized United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin support staff, including campaign manager Emma Rogers, and U of G co-op student Hayley Whitehouse, who was the University’s 2014 loaned representative to the United Way office in downtown Guelph.