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United Way of Albany County’s annual campaign is underway, and the Laramie community is invited to contribute to the effort while checking out some home-grown talent.

The United Way Talent Show is scheduled for 5-8 p.m. Oct. 16 via Zoom and Facebook Live. All acts will be family-friendly.

“We’re inviting the community to be the talent,” said executive director Evelyn Edson.

Each of the United Way’s 17 partner agencies will be represented by an act, and audience members can make a donation for their favorite one. The agency with the highest number of individual donations will receive $500, while all the money raised will go into United Way’s undesignated fund, which is distributed to all agencies.

“The whole following week you’ll be able to vote, and then we’ll announce the winner,” Edson said.

Edson said she came up with the idea for the online talent show earlier this summer while brainstorming ways to bring the community together while not knowing whether in-person events would be feasible this fall.

United Way partnered with Relative Theatrics, which is contributing its expertise in staging online events. The talent acts themselves will be pre-recorded and then interspersed with live interviews and information about partner agencies.

Some agencies are drawing from their own pool of volunteers and staff to find talent show participants. Others will be paired with acts from the community. As of earlier this week, there were still a few more openings for acts.

United Way began its 2020 fundraising campaign in early September with the goal of raising $535,000 by Thanksgiving. Partner agencies use the money in direct support of their operations as well as for leverage in seeking additional grants and funding. The money will be allocated by a community board next spring. Edson said United Way was about 15 percent of the way to its goal.

Additionally, United Way is raising money for its emergency fund, which will support Mullen Fire relief efforts. All money raised through Nov. 1 will be matched, up to $7,500, thanks to a grant from Wells Fargo.

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