More than 100 charitable and nonprofit agencies filled the HUB Ballroom Wednesday for the kickoff to the UW’s annual Combined Fund Drive — a gala invitation to the UW community to donate a little bit each pay period to help others.
Booths representing nonprofit agencies filled the hall with colorful presentations, brochures and small giveaways to attract passers-by. Present were representatives of food banks, youth organizations, housing groups, child care organizations, animal groups, shelters and more. The event lasted from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
But it couldn’t be helped: The dogs were the stars of the show.
There was Rico, a big black labrador working with volunteer Kathy Dwyer to display the efforts of Paws With A Cause, a national nonprofit group that trains assistance dogs to help people with disabilities achieve greater freedom. “Disability does not mean inability,” a sign on the table announced.
Sporting such an outsized body and head that Dwyer called him “part lab, part moose,” Rico deftly performed several tricks for appreciative onlookers — picking up a dropped credit card or even a quarter, helping Dwyer off with her coat and proffering a basket of information — before looking up, warm features glowing in anticipation, to receive a treat.
“Does he do windows?” a passing woman asked, to which Dwyer replied without hesitation, “No, but he does laundry!”
Also helping Paws With A Cause was another golden lab named Dazzle, who showed a friendly interest in his surroungings and watched with interest as Rico showed his talents. Nearby was Eddy, another golden lab on the scene to advertise Summit Assistance Dogs in Anacortes, which also trains dogs for a life of helping humans.
Brochures were available noting 10 reasons to participate in the fund drive. These included the fact that donations are easy, tax-deductible and can be targeted, that charities are screened first and that charities get about 105 percent of the donated money.
Officials with the Combined Fund Drive moved through the crowd offering to answer questions while classic rock music played in the background. Kerry Everly, campaign coordinator for the drive at the UW, said last year $1,483,000 was raised for the agencies present, any of which members of the UW community can choose in their giving.
Last year’s total was a record, Everly said, and with luck, this year’s will be, too. For more information on the 2005 Combined Fund Drive, visit online at http://www.washington.edu/uwcfd/.