The University of Guelph has met this year’s fundraising goal of $607,500 for the United Way.

The announcement was made at a volunteer luncheon on Dec. 4 by president Franco Vaccarino. It’s the fourth year in a row that giving by the U of G community has topped $600,000.

“What’s particularly inspiring about reaching this goal is that it’s been done in an environment with all sorts of other worthy causes that are also gaining your support. It reinforces what this community is all about and that University of Guelph spirit,” said Vaccarino.

“Our goal has been to improve lives and build community. How you have all stepped up to the plate in such a big way is a huge point of pride in my role as president.”

This year’s target was chosen to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the regional United Way and to acknowledge the advocacy rooted in the annual University of Guelph campaign.

U of G will continue to tally additional pledges, donations and proceeds for the rest of December.

“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,” said campaign co-chair Rich Moccia, associate vice-president, research (strategic partnerships).

Co-chair Patricia Tersigni, director of academic programs and policy in the provost’s office, added: “A big heartfelt thank you to all co-ordinators, canvassers, volunteers and supervisors for giving your time, your talent and your treasure. This is your campaign and the University of Guelph would not hit the goal each year without all of you and all those who give.”

U of Guelph’s annual United Way campaign is run by volunteers. About 200 people serve as area co-ordinators, canvassers and members of the campus-wide steering committee, and hundreds more help to organize special events on and off campus.

A number of university awards were presented at today’s 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 Physical Resources for exceeding its campaign goal and adding 19 new donors.

The Gabrielle Hubert Award for outstanding contributions by an individual volunteer was presented to Peter Routledge, area co-ordinator in Computing and Communications Services. As a United Way ambassador, he generated enthusiasm and engagement, and organized numerous successful fundraising events.

The Department of Human Health and Nutritional Sciences fundraising team received the Spirit Award. In addition to setting up department events, they also organized a Learn How to Salsa event for the university community.

The Co-Chairs Award for special merit was presented to Jill Ferguson, Co-operative Education and Career Services, for her work as the campaign’s training co-ordinator, being a long-time supporter and for sharing her personal connection to Hospice Wellington, a funded agency.

Student co-chairs for the 2015 fundraising drive are undergraduates Meghan Doherty and Kim Hu. They gave their thanks to students for their contributions to the campaign, with the final amount that students raised still being tallied. Doherty and Hu presented this year’s Student Spirit Award to the College of Business and Economics Students’ Association for their efforts to build support for the campaign and fundraise, including with a downtown Guelph bake sale.

U of G has been one of the largest contributors to the United Way Guelph Wellington Dufferin’s annual campaign; this year’s regional target is $3.6 million. Local campaign support staff were also recognized today, including campaign manager Emma Rogers and U of G co-op student Sarah Shepherd, who was the University of Guelph’s 2015 loaned representative to the United Way office in downtown Guelph.