(WKBN) – Many families are struggling with job losses right now as part of the impact of coronavirus.
Thursday, WKBN co-hosted a telethon with United Way called “Rise United.”
WKBN and our sister stations in Youngstown joined with local United Way chapters in each of our counties to raise money for their programs.
The United Way has been a foundation for more than 30 agencies across the Mahoning Valley, but just like everything else, they knew they had to adapt when the pandemic hit in March.
“It’s especially difficult and we want to be the backbone and be able to help them and step in where needed,” said Roxann Sebest, director of communications at United Way.
The organization has sponsored more than a dozen agencies with additional emergency money. They call it the COVID-19 Response Fund.
“We’re a support system for our partner agencies that really needed that emergency support. We fund them throughout the year regularly, but this was above and beyond what we typically give them,” Sebest said.
One of those agencies is the Salvation Army of the Mahoning Valley. During the pandemic, they’ve been serving more than 400 families a week.
On top of that, one of the Salvation Army’s freezers broke, putting them in a position where they needed financial help.
“We’re trying to be good stewards of all the dollars we have now because of the need, and so for us, we’re trying to hold that money as long as we can because we’re not sure what tomorrow will bring,” said Major Paul Moore from the Salvation Army.
The YMCA of Youngstown is also getting emergency funding.
The Davis Family YMCA in Boardman was able to run their pandemic childcare and all locations were able to reopen safely when orders were lifted.
“The United Way provided funding so that we could open up our pandemic childcare and keep it open and provide a safe environment for the kids, which is really successful,” said Tom Gasce, CEO of YMCA of Youngstown.
The YMCA is also opening its downtown location to Youngstown City Schools students for virtual learning. They will have free WiFi, tutors, snacks and school supplies.
“The money that’s being provided during the telethon, surely that will be a big help to the Y, to provide this program to the kids that are going to have to learn virtually,” Gasce said.
For all the agencies, they’re happy to know the money from their community is going to help in their own back yards.
The telethon ran from 4 to 8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 20, but you can still donate on the United Way’s website.
Thursday night, more than $30,000 was raised.