The United Way of Galveston and United Way Galveston County Mainland kicked off their fundraising campaigns Wednesday with the goal to collectively raise more than $3 million for area agencies.

Galveston’s chapter wants to raise $1.1 million in the next year to help agencies such as the Galveston County Food Bank, the Galveston College Foundation and Galveston Island Meals on Wheels. The mainland’s United Way hopes to raise $2.44 million to help cover expenses for programs such as the Hospice Care Team, Lone Star Legal Aid and the Family Service Center of Galveston County.

In events at Moody Gardens in Galveston and the Doyle Convention Center in Texas City, organization leaders held the first of a series of events planned to raise money for the United Way chapters.

“Everyone in this room will know someone at some point in their lives who has been provided services by the United Way,” said Connie Bradley, president of United Way Galveston County Mainland.

United Way is an organization focused mainly on health, education and financial stability that pools money to donate to charitable organizations that apply for funding. The agency then vets the organizations that receive money and check that they’re meeting their goals, mainland Executive Director Chris Delesandri said.

While the chapter works to offer services, it is also focused on getting people to a place where they don’t need services through classes and training, Delesandri said.

“What I really want to do is work on what we can do to get people off services,” he said. “I want to set up classes and before the person gets help, they have to attend some of these classes.”

Connect Transit is one of the partner agencies for the mainland chapter, which provides public transit for people around the county. Each year, the agency receives about $35,000 from United Way Galveston County Mainland to help support its programs, Transportation Director James Hollis said.

“United Way has stepped up for the residents of the community,” Hollis said.

More information is available at www.uwgcm.org and www.uwgalv.org.

Contact reporter Marissa Barnett at 409-683-5257 or marissa.barnett @galvnews.com.

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