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BMO kicks off United drive in big Way

Generating as much excitement as a red-carpet premiere, United WayToronto launched its annual fundraising campaign with a full house ofsupporters and a $1 million goody bag from BMO.

Generating as much excitement as a red-carpet premiere, United Way Toronto launched its annual fundraising campaign with a full house of supporters and a $1 million goody bag from BMO.

The special donation, which was announced yesterday as United Way rolled out its 2009 campaign, will bring the charity that much closer to this year’s goal of $107.5 million, president and CEO Francis Lankin told hundreds of supporters jammed into the lobby of First Canadian Place.

“This gift goes above and beyond BMO’s annual campaign pledge,” she said. “It’s proof that people in our city come together when it matters most — not only to meet the most urgent needs in our community but also to address the root causes of social challenges.”

The money will be used to develop a Community Hub strategy to ease health and social service needs and pump new life into some of the city’s poorest neighbourhoods.

And though the economy is on a slow road to recovery, both Downe and Lankin warned it will be some time before the effects are felt in communities where many struggle even in good times.

According to Lankin, Ontario and Toronto were hard hit by what she called “the worst recession since the Great Depression.”

The economy was blamed for the $2.5 million shortfall at the end of last year’s campaign — the first time in 18 years Toronto’s United Way had failed to reach its target. Still, it was the second-highest amount raised in its 52-year history, Lankin noted.

 
 
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