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United Way thanks volunteers and donors

United Way of North Central Massachusetts recognized donors and volunteers with an evening of laughter and festivities, at its annual thank you celebration, held Tuesday evening at the Four Points Sheraton.   

Dave Baer, vice president of marketing, SimplexGrinnell, and campaign chairman for United Way of North Central Massachusetts, thanked the nonprofit organization's volunteers and donors for contributing to this year's fundraising efforts. "Living united means being a part of the change, which all of you are generously doing by giving of your time, talents or treasure."

The annual community fundraising effort, which includes corporation gifts, employee giving and individual donations, provides more than 90,000 units of health and human services to 19 communities in the area of health, income and education.

For conducting outstanding workplace employee-giving campaigns, United Way presented the Extraordinary Effort Chairman's Award for the Nashoba region to the Deluxe Corporation of Groton; the Twin Cities award went to Micron Products of Fitchburg; and for the Gardner region, GFA Federal Credit Union.

In addition, United Way Community Builders, a volunteer center, awarded four grants for community volunteer projects, as part of National Volunteer Week, which was sponsored by Unitil and Bemis Associates of Shirley. The community was asked to vote for a favorite project.  

Kira Andreucci of Fitchburg won first place for her effort to distribute kidpacks-bags of nonperishable food items-to needy McKay Campus Elementary School students. Her Karing 4 Kidz project will use the $1,000 prize money to purchase food. In addition, she received over 20 bags of food for her program, which were colorfully displayed as centerpieces on the guests' tables.

Hubbardston Senior Center won second place, $500, for its efforts to improve the grounds at the Hubbardston Council on Aging and surrounding town municipal building. Volunteers planted flowers, put down mulch, trimmed brush and weeds, raked and swept the parking lot.

Third place, $250, went to Growing Places Garden Project in Clinton, where volunteers installed vegetable gardens for six families living at a low-income complex in Leominster. The healthy and affordable eating initiative also includes a cooking and nutrition class, provided by Share Our Strengths' Cooking Matters.

Leominster Trail Stewards won fourth place, $250, for utilizing volunteers to help clear trails of fall and winter debris at Barrett Park in Leominster.

United Way Youth Venture, a program with more than 1,000 youth creating positive change through youth-led initiatives, awarded $1,000 scholarships to four students for outstanding participation in the program:

Mike Sushchyk, from Parker Charter Essential School in Devens, will attend UMass Amherst; Kara Komprathoum, Winchendon's Murdock High School, has been accepted at Providence College; Antonia Calcaterra, North Central Charter Essential School in Fitchburg, is undecided as well as Richard Miegs, Leominster High School.

Following the program, comedian Paul Nardizzi entertained the audience.