Why Do We Give?

It’s that time of year again that families start to plan for the holidays. Where will Thanksgiving and Christmas be hosted? When should we celebrate? How can we make everyone happy? What should we get our loved ones? The list of questions and stressors go on and on and yet we continue to do it to ourselves year after year.

It’s also around this time of year that we all start getting into the giving spirit. We put ourselves aside to focus on others. Why is this? Why do we, in the midst of all the chaos, decide we want to do more?!

There are several reasons that make us feel fulfilled through giving. Here are a few:

  • It is one of the MOST rewarding experiences.
  • It is a moment to recognize and feel grateful for the things you do have.
  • It is about making someone else feel loved and important.
  • It is about teaching our children the importance of generosity and helping others.
  • It is about putting ourselves in someone else’s situation and giving them hope.
  • It is about challenging your beliefs and opinions.

Giving is many things and different for everyone. It’s what resonates with you and no matter who you are, you can give something – money, time, encouragement, love – they are all important!

A few weeks ago one of the individuals staying at United Way’s Emergency Homeless Shelter stopped with a rose for each staff member. It was thoughtful and sweet, and that act of kindness showed us you can have nothing at all and make a difference! He has very little, but his gift made a HUGE impact on us.

United Way does a lot of amazing work in our local communities, but that work cannot be done without the support of great business partners and compassionate individuals like you. It’s because of you that we are able to serve over 1,100 backpacks to children every weekend to ensure they do not go hungry. It’s because of you that we’ve helped provide emergency shelter to over 450 clients and connect them to necessary resources since March 2018. It’s because of you that the abused and troubled youth have safe places to go.

You are the reason for our success and because of you we are working tirelessly to end childhood hunger and homelessness!

Continue to help United Way keep our most vulnerable population safe during their darkest times.

Volunteer your time to the less fortunate in our community, educate your neighbors of the work being done, and GIVE TODAY to help continue to support United Way.

High School Student Teams up with United Way to Tackle Hunger

PB&J Target donationBismarck, ND – A Century High School student has teamed up with the United Way Backpack Program, businesses and individuals to address child hunger in the Bismarck-Mandan community.

For the past seven years, Lauryn Hinckley has been collecting peanut butter and jelly to help feed local children. Last year, more than 7,900 pounds of peanut butter and jelly were collected. With the help of Starion Bank, Bismarck and Mandan public schools, Youth Services America (YSA), Cash Wise, C&S Wholesale Grocers, Move for Hunger, Generation On and the Sodexo Foundation, she plans to make even more of an impact this year.

Hinckley’s inspiration comes from an event she witnessed a few years ago. “When I was 9-years-old, I witnessed a family not able to afford their groceries. I saw two little boys’ faces drop and a look of embarrassment come over their mother in a busy checkout line. Up to that point, I had never considered the fact that you need money to get food.” This type of occurrence may be more common than you’d imagine. One in five children in our area does not get enough food to eat.

Lauryn’s service to our community earned her the 2016 Prudential Spirit of Community Award, bestowed on two youth from each state who have demonstrated outstanding acts of volunteerism. She also was recently recognized by the Sodexo Stop Hunger Foundation as a 2017 Stephen J. Brady Stop Hunger Regional Honoree.

The United Way Backpack Program is working to end childhood hunger by filling the gaps and sending healthy meals home with students on weekends and breaks. In 2016, the program – supported by volunteers, individuals and local businesses – provided 96,228 meals to students who do not have enough to eat.

The Peanut Butter and Jelly Food Drive will run from March 31 through April 13. Supporting the drive is as easy as stopping by your local Starion Bank to drop off peanut butter and jelly or visiting http://www.msaunitedway.org/pbj to make a monetary contribution. To ensure that items can be delivered to children, please donate 16 to 18 ounce store-bought plastic jars. Youth across the community will also be supporting the effort by hosting drives at their schools.

10 Reasons to LOVE Your MSA United Way

“The degree of loving is measured by the degree of giving.”

– Edwin Louis Cole

Valentine’s Day has us thinking warm & fuzzy thoughts. We polled board members, volunteers, Women United members and United Way staff to collect just a small sampling of reasons to love United Way.


  • United Way brings folks from all walks of life together in the spirit of positive change. You really get to see the results of our community being better when we work together.
  • United Way uplifts, it does not divide.
  • Adopt-a-Classroom!
  • I LOVE United Way because they make children a priority by mentoring and tutoring them, making sure they have meals on the weekends, and by working to ensure every child has a positive role model in their life.
  • Every dollar makes a difference.
  • United Way spurs positive change in my community.
  • Everyone and anyone can get involved.
  • United Way is different. I know that my dollars are being used as efficiently as possible on the needs in the community that are most imminent. I love being a part of the solution and not just another whiny, complaining post on Facebook.
  • Working with Women United and seeing the impact they are making in the classroom, as mentors, and building relationships to make our community one that we are proud to live in.
  • I love being part of making our community a safer and better place to live.

Find what you LOVE about United Way by getting involved. Become a donor, volunteer with a non-profit at http://www.volunteerbisman.com, adopt-a-classroom and become a mentor…the options are endless. Call us at 255-3601 for more information!




Northridge 5th Graders Take Action

Check out this awesome story from a local fifth grader named Messina. After hearing about the shortfall with the United Way Backpack Program, their class decided to do something about it. What an inspiration, Northridge! Our future is in good, caring and community-minded hands.

My name is Messina and I’m a fifth grader at img_0723Northridge Elementary school. I am very happy to inform you about our great success in raising money for the United way Backpack Program, using problem solving skills, business skills, and communication skills we learned how to become businessmen, and put together two events to raise the maximum amount of donations we could give to the United way Backpack Program. Here are the steps we used to get us as far as we did.

step 1. Our teacher Mrs. Sagsveen got a letter on her computer telling how the backpack program needed help raising 40,000$ or more, she asked us if we wanted to do something about it, and we answered that with deciding do a hat day within our school. We created several different committees to do certain things, like the poster committee would make all the posters, hang them up, and take them done when appropriate. The poster committee made posters for the hat day, the ideas committee ( most of our class) said that the suggested donation should be 1.00$ or more, but if you didn’t have a dollar you could still wear a hat. we got about 700$ from that, but we still had to put some aside for the main event.

step 2. Our class decided that we would have a snack shack that would contain healthy snacks only. Our first obstacle was allergies, some kids in our school had allergies and might not want to buy things at the snack shack, we decided just not to have snacks that some kids might be allergic to. The second obstacle we had to face was germs and refrigeration, we decided to use a friend’s fridge, bowls of ice, and a lunch pack.With the germs, we had bought packaged items instead of open items and homemade items, (except for the fresh fruit). Once again, the poster committee made posters, and the snack shack was under way of being approved. As soon as the snack shack was approved, we got started buying and selling the snacks, this lasted for a week and then ended. We got back our spent profits (160$,130$,140$…), and over 550$ in real profits!

the result. I am very proud to say that we made over 1,300$ for the backpack program. To sum up everything, we started out with a hat day to raise enough money to start a snack shack, and we got even more money from that, so these are the two easy steps that got us 1,300$.kids

A Community UNITED

On Friday, January 27, 2017, 450 business leaders, agency representatives and United Way supporters gathered together at the Ramkota to celebrate. And there is a LOT to celebrate.
Because of your investment of our community in 2016:
• Over 40,000 lives were changed
• 23,234 nights of shelter were provided
• 1,866,419 meals were served
• 47,497 Imagination Library books were mailed
• 3,652 of you volunteered

This campaign season you stepped up and raised a record-breaking $2,616,216 million to support 33 partner agencies and 56 vital programs in our community. Simply amazing.

In addition to celebrating the amazing financial commitment of our community, a number of businesses and volunteers were also recognized.

Lifetime of Caring Award goes to an outstanding individual who goes above and beyond to give back to our community. Albert A. Wolf

Best in Show is awarded to groups for their exceptional gifts and campaigns
Small Business: Fireside Office Solution 
Corporate and Employee Gifts: MDU Resources Group, Inc. 
Employee Campaign: National Information Solutions Cooperative
United Way Agency: Abused Adult Resource Center

LIVE UNITED Award recognizes companies that go over and above for our community and exemplify the definition of LIVING UNITED.
* ND Department of Human Services
* Paramount Builders, Inc.
* Townsquare Media
* Kupper Chevrolet
Spirit of Bismarck-Mandan
recognizes a
business for an outstanding employee campaign.
EMC Insurance Companies 

Top 20 Company and Employee Investments:
1. Basin Electric Power Cooperative
2. MDU Resources Group, Inc.
3. Scheels Sports
4. Sanford Health
5. Doosan/Bobcat Company
6. Aetna
7. CHI St. Alexius Health
8. Eide Bailly
9. National Information Solutions Cooperative (NISC)
10. Starion Bank
11. Bismarck Public Schools
12. Tesoro
13. American Bank Center
14. Wells Fargo Bank
15. Gate City Bank
16. BNC National Bank
17. U.S. Bank
18. KLJ
19. ND Workforce Safety & Insurance
20. University of Mary

May Your Backpack Always Be Full

This beautiful story is re-posted with permission from the author, Mrs. Fischer from Grimsrud Elementary and showcases the impact of the United Way Backpack Program.

The place: My Classroom
The Day: Friday
The Time: Afternoon
Me: Talking to no one and everyone, in particular

After what seemed to be one of the longest weeks ever, I was taking attendance and just said, “Whew, I’m so glad it’s Friday,” to no one, really. I’m sure a few kids heard me and just went about their silent reading time. But one heard me and came to my table in the back of the room.

This one said, “Me, too, Mrs. Fischer!”

I said, “Something special going on this weekend?” Expecting an answer like, yeah, we’re going to the street fair, or movies or getting a video game…Boy, was I wrong!

This one replied, “I love Fridays because I get to (get to, mind you) take the backpack full of food home to my family!”

Right then and there I wanted to grab that child, hold on to them forever…apologize to anyone/everyone I ever thought a mean thing about, quit whining about petty stuff, because here in front of me was a nine year old child who was so excited because they get to take home a backpack of food to the family! They will have food for the weekend.

As a couple of tears appeared this one said smiling up at me, “Do you get to take home a backpack, too?”

I said, “Yes, yes I do, but my backpack has some different type of “food” than yours. Mine won’t be as full as yours is.”

This one responded as they hugged me, “Don’t worry, Mrs. Fischer, I bet next week yours will be full too!” and went to their spot and started to read.

I turned around so the kids couldn’t see me because I was crying. And this is what I saw (a photo my dad). Talk about divine intervention, whatever works for you. This picture WAS on top of my taller shelf since school started. Somehow it was down right beside the phone…He must have known it’s been a heck of a week. Just like the nine year old letting me know that next week my backpack will be full, too. Little does this one know my backpack is already full! I just need to see it, feel it, and love!

1,000,000 Meals Provided Last Year

This week, Bismarck Mayor Mike Seminary recognized as Hunger and Homelessness Awareness Week.Thanks to programs like the Great Plains Food Bank, Burleigh County Senior Center, Mandan Golden Age and the United Way Backpack Program, over 1,000,000 meals were provided to the hungry in our area last year. We’re making great headway in combating hunger, we still have work to do.

Check out Brenda’s story of how her life took a turn and she found herself with two extra mouths to feed.

uw_portraits_0046Brenda had worked hard to prepare for retirement and she thought she was ready. However, life took a different turn when she unexpectedly became the guardian of her two young grandchildren.

Brenda previously had enough to take care of herself, but started running short with two growing boys to feed. Despite working full time and tapping into retirement savings, she quickly realized that her income wasn’t going to be enough and that food was going to be a problem.

Then she found help through Great Plains Food Bank, a partner in United Way’s Health Initiative. She enrolled the boys in a summer lunch program and was able to receive the assistance she needed to keep her family fed and fueled.

“At first I was embarrassed to ask for help. I’m 64 years old and have never asked for any type of assistance. But this was beyond me. It was about my grandchildren eating and I knew I had to do whatever it took to keep them from going hungry,” said Brenda.

Without this assistance, Brenda would have likely been faced with tough choices to keep food on the table, such as giving up needed medication or keeping up with house and utility payments. Brenda’s grandsons also would have likely sensed the pressure she was facing and begun to act out in school. With no relief in sight, these problems would have only grown worse.

“I can say I’m not longer ashamed to be on the other side. I’ve been treated with dignity and respect and my grandchildren have enough to eat. The summer feeding program gives them the fuel they need to do well in school, which will help them get into college. In that way, it’s providing them with so much more than food – it’s providing my grandchildren with a future.”