A United Way fundraiser, Dash for Cash, brought a community together Saturday at the Moscow Toyota Service Center — a community that extends past the borders of the Palouse. Members of the 37 Joint Task Force stationed in East African Skyped in to participate in the 5K run.
“Raising money or just dropping a few bucks in a charity box is easy,"said Staff Sgt. Jerald Wilkins, a spokesman for the task force."You never connect with those you’re helping. Getting out with people in your community that care about the same things you do and then undertaking a task together creates a strong bond.”
Wilkins and his task force are stationed in Djibouti, a country bordering Ethiopia. So when he heard about the upcoming event through an email announcement, he felt homesick, he said.
“When I did the math and realized the morning run back home would be at the same time as my usual evening run here, I decided I would just run it'with them',” he said. “Then I mentioned it to a couple of friends, and they wanted to join me. From there it just grew.”
Wilkins was pleased with the amount of people from his group who made a donation. He said he was surprised at the turn out because not all of the service members had come from the Palouse area, yet they were still willing to help support United Way.
“After a few deployments all over the world, the United States seems a little smaller, and a little town a few thousand miles away suddenly seems closer and more important,” he said. “I think the reason most here find these events important is because of the large volunteering spirit.”
Whitney Mueller, Secretary of the United Way of Moscow and Latah County, said the group came up with the fun-run because a lot of people like to stay active, and they knew someone who had experience in organizing a run.
All proceeds from the event go toward United Way agencies in Moscow and Latah County. Mueller said fundraisers like these give the community an opportunity to give back.
"It's an easy way for people to come and give money and do something good for their health, and all the proceeds will benefit the member agencies that we support," Mueller said.
Misty Funke, a board member and chair of the race, said Dash for Cash helps the community members understand where their donations are going and introduces them to local charities.
“Before I was a board member, I didn't really know what United Way was,"Funke said."We're trying to get what the agencies are, and they opened my eyes up when we did the agencies’ meetings.”
Mueller said she likes telling people about how far the member agencies reach in our community.
“They know they have personally (helped), or they know somebody who has used or benefited from the services of at least one of our agencies,” she said. “If you have benefited through anything that the Boy Scouts have done, you've benefited from the United Way of Moscow and Latah County. It gives a chance for people to say ‘thank you’ to those agencies that they've experienced.”