United Way starts donation campaign

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United Way/Centraide Windsor-Essex County, in an ongoing effort to fight the scourge of poverty by helping local children succeed academically, launched a 75-hour donation campaign Tuesday to help spread the word about the Ignite Academy program.

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Launched in September, Ignite Academy is an extracurricular program for children in grades 2 through 7, with the goal of helping them succeed academically. It also provides other support to the children and their families.

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The 75-hour fundraiser comes as United Way celebrates its 75th anniversarye birthday.

“For the past 75 years, we have had the privilege of supporting the most vulnerable people in our community with the generous support of our donors,” said CEO Lorraine Goddard.

“Looking forward, we want to create a resilient, strong local community for generations to come,” said Goddard. “One of the ways we will do this, together with our partners, is through Ignite Academy, which is part of the community’s Cradle to Career strategy.”

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Goddard pointed to statistics showing that 4,000 local children currently live in poverty. In some neighborhoods, such as West Windsor, downtown Windsor and Leamington, the number is as high as one in three children living in poverty.

Goddard said data also shows that 36 percent of children in these neighborhoods are behind in reading and writing and 58 percent in math.

Children face major obstacles such as hunger, mental health problems, lack of necessary school supplies, limited help with schoolwork and unreliable transportation options.

Ignite Academy offers extracurricular programs to help improve math and reading skills, improve attendance and participation, and build self-esteem. 360 children from six schools are involved in the programme.

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Goddard said United Way’s goal is not only to raise money to support Ignite Academy now, but also to gather the resources needed to expand to more schools.

“The people of Windsor-Essex County have always been so generous when it comes to helping children in need,” Goddard said. “We would like them to learn more about how important Ignite is and donate to the program to help local children reach their full potential.”

To donate to the Ignite Academy, visit www.weareunited.com/ignite-academy-donate-now or call United Way at 519-259-6147.

jkotsis@postmedia.com

twitter.com/KotsisStar

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