Public barbecue kicks off United Way campaign

T-R PHOTOS BY TREVOR BABCOCK — Marshalltown Area United Way volunteers serve smoked ribs, baked beans and more to community members in exchange for free will donations for United Way’s 28 partner agencies.

Marshalltown Area United Way kicked off the 91st annual campaign Thursday night with smoked ribs and a truckload of pork, all to raise funds for non-profits providing community services in Marshalltown.

Lines of cars and people filled the parking lot of Marshalltown YMCA-YWCA where the event was held. JBS Marshalltown brought along a smoker to serve ribs to eat or take to-go, plus handed out a truckload of meat all in exchange for free will donations for United Way.

Previous kickoff events were not public.

“We wanted to include everyone,” co-chair of this year’s United Way campaign Shannon Naughton said. “Marshalltown has been such a great town of support for each other these last three years and so we thought that’s how we needed to kick off our campaign, with Marshalltown the full community.”

Shannon Naughton serves as co-chair of the 2021 campaign along with her husband Kris Naughton, who are the owners and operators of ServiceMaster in Marshalltown.

This year’s Marshalltown Area United Way campaign co-chairs Shannon Naughton and Kris Naughton of ServiceMaster Marshalltown say they were shocked and honored to be offered the role.

“Before we were asked to be co-chairs, we were aware that there was a United Way and that they helped some of the organizations in our community,” Shannon said. “But we did not know the depth to which they are needed.”

This year the organization has the goal to raise $800,000 for 28 partner agencies by the end of 2021, a goal $20,000 higher than last year’s.

United Way Executive Director Kendra Sorensen said the organization was among the only Iowa United Way organizations to meet fundraising goals in 2020.

“I really feel like that speaks volumes about the community that we live in, which is why I absolutely love Marshalltown and it has been my home for 23 years,” Sorensen said. “I don’t see myself going anywhere other than here.”

She said the $800,000 fundraising goal is not just a number.

Marshalltown Area United Way Executive Director Kendra Sorensen speaks at the campaign kickoff event Thursday night. She voiced her passion for the Marshalltown community and helping others through United Way.

“It’s not just to get to the number,” Sorensen said. “It’s about being able to serve the community better.”

One of the great aspects of the organization she said is funds stay local.

“It’s 98.5 percent of the money that stays right here in Marshall County no matter if the other agencies serve other territories,” Sorensen said.

Non-profit agencies can apply through a grant process, and part of how agencies are selected as partners each year is determined by needs of the community. Some of this year’s partner agencies include Youth Shelter Services, Child Abuse Prevention Services, Salvation Army and House of Compassion.

The next major fundraiser for Marshalltown Area United Way is the ‘Power of the Purse’ auction event at Elmwood Country Club in October. The event is already sold out of tickets.


Contact Trevor Babcock 641-753-6611 or tbabcock@timesrepublican.com.


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